Winding River ~ Lüshi style interpretation of Tu Fu

Winding River

Winding RiverEach falling petal leaves spring farther behind.
Each brings a tear to my eyes.
When the last disappears from my view,
no measure of wine brings clear skies.
Kingfishers frequent the hall on the river.
Unicorns lie, resting before the royal sarcophagi.
Joy is the truth when studying nature,are
with no reason to bring sorrow’s sigh.

This poem is my response to Poetics: China – Kingdom of the Poem, the prompt from Laura Bloomsbury at dVerse ~ Poets Pub, which asks us to re-interpret one of five given ancient Chinese poems. She gives the option to do so in our own style or the Lüshi style. I have chosen the latter, which differs from the style I have used in the many Chinese Interpretations I have done in the past, where I’ve rephrased the raw literal translation given at Chinese Poems in a way that varies only slightly from the “finished” version offered there. Here, I have used the Lüshi style style for Winding River, by Tu Fu. In fact, I re-interpreted this poemWinding River No 1 in that other manner for National Poetry Writing Month in 2017.  I look forward to reading the other responses to this prompt.

The Chinese Lüshi style:

       • eight lines long of couplets – The first couplet should set-up the poem;
the middle two couplets develop the theme, the final couplet is conclusion
• each line must have the same number of words, either 5, 6, or 7.
• a mono-rhyme is on every even numbered line
• Caesura (a pause) should separate clauses.

Winding River (Tu Fu)

Each piece of flying blossom leaves spring the less,
I grieve as myriad points float in the wind.
I watch the last ones move before my eyes,
And cannot have enough wine pass my lips.
Kingfishers nest by the little hall on the river,
Unicorns lie at the high tomb’s enclosure.
Having studied the world, one must seek joy,
For what use is the trap of passing honour?

Image source: Cedar Gallery
Kingfisher, by Tsukioka Kōgyo

Traveling Again (visiting Tu Fu)

Mountain Travel (visiting Tu Fu)

I return to the temple once seen in my travels,
remembering the bridge as I cross it.
This mountain and its river have been waiting.
I see the flowering willow and become like nothing.
All in this country is vivid, shining in a thin mist.
The sand is soft, colored by the late day’s sun.
I wonder why I have not returned sooner.

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:

Travelling Again

Temple remember once travel place
Bridge remember again cross time
River mountain like waiting
Flower willow become selfless
Country vivid mist shine thin
Sand soft sun colour late
Traveller sorrow all become decrease
Stay here again what this

Image source: ukiyo-e.org – Red Temple Gate, by Fujishima Takeji

More Chinese interpretations can be found here.

Today is Day 1 of National/Global Poetry Writing Month, and, though off-prompt, I’m sharing this at napowrimo.net.

Sighs of Autumn Rain No. 2 (visiting Tu Fu)

Sigh of Autumn Rain No 2

Sighs of Autumn Rain No. 2 (visiting Tu Fu)

The swirling wind driving the rain seems never ending.
The four seas and eight wastes are one, beneath a great cloud.
An ox passes me. Or, is it a horse. Who can tell?
How can the Jing River be told from the Wei, muddy from clear?
The millet may grow, but the grain’s ear has turned black.
A farmer and his wife can expect no hopeful news for their fields.
In the city, a basket of rice is worth a silk quilt.
Both buyer and seller think theirs is the better deal.

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:

Sighs of Autumn Rain (2)

Continuous wind long rain autumn numerous and confused
Four seas eight wastes together one cloud
Go horse come ox no longer distinguish
Muddy Jing clear Wei how now distinguish
Grain head grow ear millet ear black
Farmer field wife without news
City in ten litres rice exchange quilt silk
Agree better consider both mutual worth

Image source: wikiart.org – Bamboo Groves in Mist and Rain – Guan Daosheng (1308)
More Chinese interpretations can be found here.

Autumn Meditations No. 2 (visiting Tu Fu)

Autumn Meditations 2

 

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.

Overflowing (visiting Tu Fu)

 

Overflowing (visiting Tu Fu)

Overflowing_a

Image: Kawase Hasui, via asia.si.edu

The river’s surface reflects the moon, just out of reach
A lantern shines as midnight nears
An egret sleeps, its head curled, at one with the sand
A fish jumps behind the boat, and I hear it splash

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:

Overflowing

River moon go person only few feet
Lantern shine night approach third watch
Sand head overnight egret join curl peaceful
Boat stern jump splash noise

Alternate (simpler) interpretation:

Moon shining on river beside my boat
Lantern lights my way at midnight      
Egret sleeping soundly, its head curled in the sand
Behind the boat, a fish jumps and splashes

What message is this simple verse meant to deliver? Is it the peacefulness of the scene? The distance of the moon, emphasized by the insubstantial form of its reflection? The freedom the fish enjoys while the egret rests? The many messages delivered to the senses? The sense of being part of something greater?
If it is the latter, are the questions even asked, or is all simply a given?
Perhaps it is all of these.

More Chinese interpretations can be found here.

Welcome Rain on a Spring Night (visiting Tu Fu)

Welcome Rain on a Spring Night

Welcome Rain on a Spring Night (visiting Tu Fu)

A healthy rain is a good sign of the season
It brings new life in the spring
Secretly carried by the wind in the night
Falling softly, silently, as all things are nourished
With black clouds shrouding a country road
A charcoal fire shines bright on a river boat
By the red dawn, all is wet
Chengdu’s hibiscus bow down, heavy with rain

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:

Welcome Rain on a Spring Night

Welcome Rain on a Spring Night_aGood rain know season
At spring be bring life
Follow wind secretly enter night
Moist thing soft without sound
Country road cloud all black
River boat fire alone bright
Dawn see red wet place
Flower heavy brocade government city

Image source: top, Kelly Headrick/fineartamerica.com (edited, here)
bottom, China Online Museum

More Chinese interpretations can be found here.

Nocturnal Reflections While Traveling (visiting Tu Fu)

nocturnal-reflections-while-traveling

Nocturnal Reflections While Traveling (visiting Tu Fu)

A soft breeze strokes the grass onshore
The boat’s single mast stands tall in the night
Above the surrounding plains, shooting stars
The moon seems to rise from the mighty river
I wonder if my words are worth reading
Should the old and sick be restricted from writing
When they seem to flutter from place to place
Like a gull between earth and sky?

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:

Nocturnal Reflections While Traveling

Gently grass soft wind shore
Tall mast alone night boat
Stars fall flat fields broad
Moon rises great river flows
Name not literary works mark
Official should old sick stop
Flutter flutter what place seem
Heaven earth one sand gull

Image source: The Cleveland Museum of Art
Today is Day 1 of National Poetry Writing Month/Global Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo 2017).

NaPoWriMo 2017GloPoWriMo 2017

Thinking of My Brothers on a Moonlit Night (visiting Tu Fu)

thinking-of-my-brothers-on-a-moonlit-night

Thinking of My Brothers on a Moonlit Night (visiting Tu Fu)

Travel is curtailed as war drums sound
On the border, a lone goose calls out to autumn
Frost seems to glow in the late night air
The bright moon reminds me of home
My brothers have all gone, each his own way
No one there to tell me if they are alive or dead
Who knows if my letters reach them
When the fighting never ends

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:

Thinking of My Brothers on a Moonlit Night

Garrison drum cut person movement
Autumn border one goose sound
Dew from today night white
Moon is homeland bright
Have brother all disperse
No home ask die life
Send letter all not reach
Particularly as not stop fighting

My other interpretations can be found here.

Image source: the iris / The J. Paul Getty Museum

Winding River No. 2 (visiting Tu Fu)

winding-river-no-2

Winding River #2 (visiting Tu Fu)

Every day I return from court with spring clothing to pawn
And every day I return from the river area drunk as can be
Many are the places that hold my wine debt
It’s a rare thing to live to seventy
I see painted lady butterflies go deep within the flowers
And I see water drops fall from dragonflies in their leisurely flight
They say that time is fleeting
Brief is our time together, though brief it should not be

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:

Winding River (2)

Court return every day pawn spring clothes
Every day river area utmost drunk return
Wine debt common go place have
Life seventy always rare
Through flowers vanessa butterfly deep deep see
Drop water dragonfly leisurely fly
Pass on speech time all be on move
Brief time mutual recognise not mutual separate

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

A Guest Arrives (visiting Tu Fu)

a-guest-arrives

A Guest Arrives (visiting Tu Fu)

Spring water surrounds my hut
Each morning, my only guests are a flock of gulls
My floral path never being swept for guests
Today, for the first time, a gentleman reaches for the rough gate
Far from the market, I have enough dinner for only one
And just one cup of wine in my poor home
I decide to share a drink with my elderly neighbor
I call to him and go to the fence with the last of the wine

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:

A Guest Arrives

Hut south hut north all spring water
Only see flock gulls day day come
Flower path not once reason visitor sweep
Rough gate today start for gentleman open
Dish supper market far not double taste
Cup wine home poor only old coarse wine
Consent with neighbour old man opposite drink
Partition fence shout get exhaust remaining cup

Image source: asia.si.edu