Autumn Meditations No. 2 (visiting Tu Fu)
The sun sets beyond Kuizhou’s wall, casting long shadows
Always, the Dipper Mansion leads my eye to Chang’an
Hearing a gibbon’s call, the third time brings a tear
I set out on an August mission by raft, never reaching home
Lighting ministry incense is a far cry from visions of a comforting pillow
Faint, sad reed flutes are heard from the mountain tower’s white battlements
Look now, under the moon, at the morning glories on the stones
Already, the rush flowers glow on the islet shore
Literal translations of classic Chinese poetry can be found at chinese-poems.com. This is my interpretation of a poem by Tu Fu. The literal translation, as provided at chinese-poems.com, is as follows:
Autumn Meditations (2)
Kui prefecture lonely wall set sun slant
Every rely Southern Dipper gaze capital city
Hear ape real fall three sound tear
Sent on mission vain follow eight month raft
Picture ministry incense stove apart hidden pillow
Mountain tower white battlements hide sad reed whistle
Ask look stone on creeper moon
Already reflect islet before rushes reeds flowers
The “Twenty-eight Mansions” are part of the Chinese constellations system.
Attempts by Tu Fu at attaining a position in civil service often proved futile, yet, when successful, those positions seldom were fulfilling. Three years before his death, he traveled down the Yangtze River, in an attempt to reach his ancestral home in Henan province. Due to ill health, he stayed for two years in Kuizhou, where he wrote prolifically. He then journeyed again, getting as far as Hunan province, where he died. Further details here.
More Chinese interpretations can be found here.