CHINESE POEMS translated by YK Kwan
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The Chinese text was prepared and produced by courtesy of Mrs. Rosita
Chan of Hong Kong, though any error still belongs to the author.





50 Selected Tang  Dynasty  (618-906 AD)  Poems
***********************************************************************************
Authors in chronological order
Brief introductions have been added to the poems or the author

Poem 1
望 月 懷 遠                                                張 九 齡   ( 678-740 )
海 上 生 明 月 ,    天 涯 共 此 時 。        
情 人 怨 遙 夜 ,    竟 夕 起 相 思 。        
滅 蠋 憐 光 滿 ,    披 衣 覺 露 滋 。        
不 堪 盈 手 贈 ,    還 寢 夢 隹 期 。
Thinking afar in moonlight                       Zhang Jiu Ling        
A bright moon rising over the sea,
Shores apart, watching the same
Is someone dear to me.
I loath this endless night;
And could not sleep but think of thee.
In this full moon light,        
Who cares for candlelight?
Stepping out I don my gown,
And feel dew on the ground.
I wish to offer you moonlight in a handful,
But, to my real shame, ‘tis impossible.
Retirng to my bed, it seems,
I might find happier days in dreams.

Zhang Jiu Ling, 張 九 齡 Tang poet (678-740). Became advanced Imperial Scholar 進 士 and appointed as Emperor’s counselor
右 拾 遺. In the reign of Xuan Zhong 玄 宗, and in year Kai Yuan 開 元 年 間, promoted to Chief Secretary and then Prime Minister.
He criticized An  Lu Shan 安 祿 山 as viciously ambitious but was disregarded by Xuan Zhong.  When Xuan Zhong asked for his
opinion in appointing   Li Lin Po 李 林 甫 as Chief Minister, his answer was : a disaster to the Court and society 禍 延 宗 社. Xuan
Zhong 玄 宗 was displeased.   Zhang was relieved in 736 and he died four years after. His sagacity was proved twenty years
later in the An-Shi Rebellion 安 史 之 亂 755-763).
A far off place. See: 韓 愈 , 祭 十 二 郎 文 :一 在 天 之 涯 , 一 在 地 之 角,
The author did not mention what but it must be the moonlight in his hands.

Poem  2
涼 州 曲                                                      王 翰
葡萄美酒夜光杯,欲飲琵琶馬上催。
醉卧沙場君莫笑,古來征戰幾人回?
Song of Liang Zhou                                    Wang Han (687-726)
With sparkling glasses that shine,
I indulge in my exquisite grape-wine.
We were going for another round,
But the pi-pa signaled that we should mount.
Lying drunk in a battlefield seems a joke,
But please don’t ridicule me, my folks.
Ever since fighting wars, we must learn,
How many could remain alive and return.

Liang Zhou涼 州is now Wu Wei  County武威縣 , Gansu Province甘肅省.
Author: Wang Han, Tang poet. (687 - 726 ), qualified as advanced imperial scholar進士 c713
In his younger days he had a reveling temperament. He was once the Prefect of Yu  Zhou汝州剌史  but was demoted to
Acting Prefect of Tao Zhou道州司馬  where he died in office.

Poem  3
春 曉                                                        孟 浩 然
春來不覺曉,處處聞啼鳥。
夜來風雨聲,花落知多少?
Dawn in Spring                                        Meng Hao-ran (689-740)
Spring dreams not awakening,
Until everywhere birds singing.
In last night’s storm and raining,
Guess how many flowers reeling?

Author: Poet of Tang Dynasty (689-740). He was a well-known scholar but had never been appointed an official of the
Tang government. The popularity of his poetry was equivalent to Wang Wei  王維who was his friend and their style was
known as “Wang Meng” 王孟. He was also a friend to Li Bai 李白 and about 12 years senior to the latter.

Poem 4
臨 洞 庭 上 張 丞 相                                               孟 浩 然
八 月 湖 水 平,  涵 虛 混 太 清 。
氣 蒸 雲 夢 澤 , 波 撼 岳 陽 城 。
欲 濟 無 舟 楫   , 端 居 恥 聖 明   。
坐 觀 垂 釣 者 , 徒 有 羨 魚 情 。
Poem to Prime Minister Zhang at Dong Ting        Meng Hou-ran
It is Autumn in Lake Dong Ting,
Its surface with the horizon merging.
Misty vapours rising to the sky,
Covering the whole marshland  wide.
Waves lapping to the east,
Only at the city  wall they cease.
Crossing over is my intent,
But I find no boat at hand.
In this open-minded reign,
Idling at home is a disdain.
Fishermen are angling on the bank,
I envy to join their rank.

Lake Dong Ting洞 庭 湖, the largest lake in China, in Hunan 湖 南. See also Poem 26 by Du Fu.
Prime Minister Zhang: Zhang Jiu Ling 張 九 齡, See also Poem 01 by him.
This sentence implies the author’s intention to join the civil service but without an intermediary.
This explains the situation further.
In year 733, the author was traveling to Dong Ting and Chang-an 長 安. He sent this poem to Zhang Jiu Ling who was
Prime Minister 丞 相 at the time, as a request for a position in the government. It was later in 737 when Zhang was
demoted to Prefect of Jing-zhou 荊 州 that the author was recruited as a staff 幕 僚.
Yun Meng 雲 夢 澤 was name of a vast marshland by Lake Dong Ting.
Yue Yang city, 岳 陽 城.
The fishermen were the people with a catch, implying an “official position”.

Poem  5
出 塞                                                           王 昌 齡
秦時明月漢時關,萬里長征人未還。
但使龍城飛將在,不敎胡馬度陰山。
Into the Wilderness                                    Wang Chang-Ling (698-757)
The moon is the same as in Qin’s  days,
As in Han , the pass  looks the same way.
Marching ten thousand miles away,
The soldiers are not seen returning today.
Had we a brave General Li to lead in the fray,
At the frontier , the Huns would be held at bay.

The Qin-Han 秦漢 period was c. 200BC. The author was therefore referring to a period almost 10 centuries ago.
The Qin Dynasty was short-lived (15 years) and closely followed by the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD). Both had the same
sort of troubles posed by the northern Huns as foreign invaders.
The pass was the same one as in Han. The insinuation is in the line that follows, suggesting that despite the same pass,
the Han generals were much more successful in containing the threat of the Huns’ frontier incursions.
General Li Guang李廣  was a famous general of the Han era, known by the Huns as the “Flying General” 飛將軍, suggesting
the speed of his maneuvers. Dragon City 龍城in the original text refers to another matter. It was the name of a city in the
heartland of Mongolia, which was the farthest that the Han army had advanced in pursuit of the Huns, a high- watermark of
the success of the Han Dynasty.
The original text referred to “Yin Mountain” 陰山which was a mountain range inside Mongolia separating the Huns and

the frontier of the Han Empire.                                                              

Poem 6

送 別                                                               王 維
下馬飲君酒,問君何所之?
君言不得意,歸臥南山陲,
但去莫復問,白雲無盡時。
Farewell                                                          Wang Wei (701-761)
I would treat you to wine after dismounting,
Asking where would you be heading.
Disillusioned, you said you were,
Retiring to the Southern Mount , you prefer.
Just go and don’t ponder about the future,
Clouds are ever-changing as life by nature.

Poem 7
竹 里 館                                                             王 維
獨坐幽篁裏,彈琴復長嘯;
深林人不知,明月來相照。
Bamboo Lodge                                                  Wang Wei
Sitting in solitude in a bamboo grove,
I play the zither and then
Whistle to my heart’s content.
Deep into the forest is a pleasure
That people don’t understand.
The bright moon visits with leisure,
And only she can comprehend.

Southern Mount meant  “Qin Range” ”秦嶺south of Xi-an西安in Shaan-xi Province 陝西省.

Poem 8
雜 詩                                                                    王 維
君自故鄉來,應知故鄉事。
來日綺窗前,寒梅著花未?
Sundry Poem                                                       Wang Wei
To my home village you just have been,
You can tell me what you have seen.
In front of my window, the plump tree,
Has it blossomed yet? Did you see?

A total of three poems were collated under the same title and from their contents, it was probable that a couple were
staying in opposite sides of the river. A message was given to a boatman crossing the river and after he was told that the
message was delivered, the husband asked the messenger about the state of affairs of his wife’s home.

Poem 9
渭 城 曲                                                                 王 維
渭 城 朝 雨 浥 輕 塵,
客 舍 青 青 柳 色 新 。
勸 君 更 盡 一 杯 酒,
西 出 陽 關 無 故 人。
The Song of Wei City                                            Wang Wei
After the morning shower is a city clean,
Willows in refreshed colour next to the inn.
Can I impose on you one more glass?
You’ll see old friends no more beyond the Pass.

This had become the most popular parting song in ancient China, known as the “Triplet of the Yang Pass”, 陽  關  三  疊  and
it was taken to mean that the song or part of it was to be sung three times over.
Wei City was called Xian Yang 咸 陽 in Qin Dynasty, known as Wei City in Han Dynasty, now in Shaan-Xi 陝 西 Province.
Author: Wang Wei, Tang poet (701-761). He was known as a poet since the age of 15 and some of his popular compositions
were made when he was only 16-17. He became an advanced imperial scholar 進 士 at the age of 20 (721AD). Being a man
of many talents, his calligraphy, painting and knowledge in music were as profound as his poetry.
Pass: “Yang Pass”陽 關, near Dun-Huang 敦 煌.. West of the Pass was the beginning of the route to the West now known as
“Silk Road”.

Poem 10
山居秋暝                                                                王 维
空 山 新 雨 後 ,        天 氣 晚 來 秋 。
明 日 松 間 照 ,        清 泉 石 上 流 。
竹 喧 歸 浣 女 ,        蓮 動 下 渔 舟 。
随 意 春 芳 歇 ,        王 孫 自 可 留 。
An Autumn Night in the Mountains                       Wang Wei
In a quiet mountain after a sudden shower,
Autumn fills the air in late evening hours.
In between the pines, moonlight shows,
Over the rocks, clear spring-water flows.
Finished washing, women-folk come chattering
Homebound through a bamboo path.
Lily foliage are back and forth bending,
As fishing boats slide past.
Though spring is spent,
Following my heart, I still may
Let this lone traveler continue to stay.

Poem 11
將 進 酒                                                                李 白
君不見黃河之水天上來,
奔流到海不復回。
君不見高堂明鏡悲白髮,
朝如青絲暮成雪。
人生得意須盡歡,
莫使金樽空對月。
天生我才必有用,
千金散盡還復來。
烹羊宰牛且為樂,
會須一飲三百杯。
岑夫子,丹丘生,
將進酒,杯莫停。
與君歌一曲,
請君為我傾耳聽。
鐘鼓饌玉何足貴,
但願長醉不願醒。
古來聖賢皆寂寞,
惟有飲者留其名。
陳王昔時宴平樂,
斗酒十千恣歡謔。
主人何為言少錢?
徑須沽取對君酌。
五花馬,千金裘。
呼兒將出換美酒。
與爾同消萬古愁。
Please Drink                                                        Li Bai (701-762)
Do you not see sir, from the sky,
The water of Hwang He comes by?
It thunders and flows to the sea,
And forever cannot be retrieved.

For your hair, sir, do you not feel,
Like what the mirror would show?
Fine as silk as the morning may reveal,
But in the evening, white as snow.

When one’s life is riding on a crest,
No revelry seems in excess.
Do not let your time pass,
Facing the moon with an empty glass.

In this world I happen to be,
Heaven will find a purpose for me.
A fortune is only good for spending,
Care less, it will be returning.

Slaughter cattle, make merry and dine,
We should all drink three hundred cups of wine.
Master Cen , dear Dan-qiu,  no matter how,
Drink your wine, don’t stop now.

For you, Sirs, a song I’ll sing,
Lend me your ears to the lyrics:

Pomp in music and food does not count,
I hope I’m drunk forever and not sound.
Saints and sages were lonely men as of old,
Only wine drinkers leave their names bold.

When Prince Chen  once sumptuously dined,
Reveling was the only thing the party did know.
Emptying gallons of precious wine,
Worth its weight in gold.

As host I never mind the cost,
Just buy it and let’s drink with no remorse.
Precious cloak , splendid horse,
Come my page, do not pause.
Sell them for my cause,
Let’s cure our everlasting loss.

Li Bai, the most celebrated poet in Tang Dynasty (701-762)
Cen Xun and岑勲 Yuan Dan-qiu, ,阮丹丘both were friends of Li Bai.
Prince Chen  was son of Cao Cao  in the Three Kingdoms Era.
The cloak referred to was one made of silver fox fur mentioned in Shi-ji,  costing a thousand teals of gold.

Poem 12
送 孟 浩 然 之 廣 陵                                                  李 白
故 人 西 辭 黃 鶴 樓 ,
煙 花 三 月 下 揚 州 。
孤 帆 遠 影 碧 空 盡 ,
惟 見 長 江 天 際 流 。
Bidding Meng farewell to Guang Ling                     Li Bai
I bade my friend farewell at Yellow Crane Tower,
He’s heading east to Yang-zhou amid April flowers.
His lonely sail became a distant silhouette,
Vanishing in the azure skyline.
Where the Yangtze and the sky met,
There was nothing I could find.

Guang Ling 廣 陵 is now Yang-zhou 揚 州 in Jiang-su 江 蘇 Province.
Friend referred to was Meng Ho-ran. (See Poem no. 2)
East: Yellow Crane Tower was west of Guang Ling and therefore the original text used the word “west” 西.
April: The lunar calendar usually starts the year in February and therefore approximately one month behind the Western
calendar. April would generally correspond with 三 月 “the third month” in the original text.

Poem 13
送 友 人                                                                   李 白
青山橫北郭,白水繞東城。
此地一為別,孤蓬萬里征。
浮雲遊子意,落日故人情。
揮手自茲去,蕭蕭班馬鳴。
Farewell to a friend                                                 Li Bai
North of the citadel a verdant hill lies close,
Around east of the city, a clear river flows.
This is the place to say farewell to my friend,
Who’s to start a lone journey on land.
Drifting clouds reflect his drifting heart,
A setting sun tells us it’s time to part.
To my departing friend I wave my hand,
While his horse is neighing time and again

Poem 14
登 金 陵 鳳 凰 臺                                                     李 白
鳯凰臺上鳯凰遊,鳯去臺空江自流。
吳宮花草埋幽徑,晋代衣冠成古丘。
三山半落青天外,二水中分白鷺洲。
總為浮雲能蔽日,長安不見使人愁。
Ascending Phoenix Terrace  in Jin Ling                 Li Bai
Phoenixes once gathered here and hence,
Phoenix Tower was built where it stands.
The phoenixes had long flown away,
Only the Yangtze is still flowing today.
Palace gardens of Wu  turned a deserted gloom,
Jin  celebrities only remembered by their tombs.
In azure blue, the Triple Peaks  are only partly shown,
Between the rivers , on the isle , herons come to roam.
Clouds always block the sun , it was said,
The Capital  in darkness is what I fret.

Phoenix Terrace: situated at Phoenix Mountain, near Nan-jing. 南京
Jin Ling had been known since the time of the Warring States
(c. 8th century BC) and is now Nan-jing.
Li-Bai: Most celebrated poet in Tang. (701-762)
Wu吳: In the Three Kingdoms era, Jin Ling金陵 was the capital of the State of Wu and palaces were built there (c. 200AD)
over 500 years before the time of the author.
Jin晋: Meaning Eastern Jin東晋 whose capital was also at Jin Ling金陵.(c. 4th century AD)
Triple-Peaks: 三山Name of a mountain south-west of Nan-jing南京 by the River Yangtze.
Rivers: River Qin Huai秦淮 joins Yangtze to the west of Nan-jing
Isle: An alluvial island in the river off the West Gate of Nan-jing. It was frequented by herons and therefore known as Isle of
White Heron.
Clouds block the sun: Meaning undesirable elements in the imperial court having their ways over the righteous.
The Capital: Chang-An, Capital of Tang, now Xi-an西安 in Shaan-xi Province 陝西省.

Poem 15
靜 夜 思                                                                     李 白
床前明月光, 疑是地上霜。
舉頭望明月, 低頭思故鄉。
Night thoughts                                                          Li Bai
My bedroom floor flooded with moonlight,
I thought it was frost, but not quite.
Lifting my sight,
I see the moon shining bright.
Dipping my head, I brood:
How would my home-village be tonight?

The 3rd  line might come from "Autumn song"秋歌 in Jin Dynasty晋 (3rd century):
"Lifting my head I see the moon shining bright as day; 仰頭看明月
"My thoughts go with it, a thousand miles away."     寄情千里光

Poem 16
下 江 陵                                                                         李 白
朝辭白帝彩雲間,千里江陵一日還。
兩岸猿聲啼不住,輕舟巳過萬重山。
Travelling downstream to Jiang Ling                            Li Bai
Leaving Bai-di  city upon sunrise,
Amid vermillion clouds in the sky.
The journey has been made in a day,
Though Jiang Ling is a thousand miles away.
The howling of apes on both banks is still in my ear,
Yet thousands of mountains the boat has cleared.

Jiang Ling江 陵is now in Hu-bei Province, Jiang Ling District, said to be 1200  li(s) from Bai Di city白帝   .
Bai Di city: The city changed its name to Bai Di白帝 towards the end of the Eastern Han Empire 東漢; it is now in Sichuan
Province 四川省.

Poem 17
金 陵 酒 肆                                                                    李 白
風吹柳花滿店香,吳姬壓酒勸客嘗;
金陵子弟來相送,欲行不行各盡觴。
請君試問東流水,別意與之誰短長?
Farewell party in a Jin Ling  wine shop                        Li Bai
Willow leaves  fluttering in the wind,
Aroma filled the wine shop, out and in.
A local girl  pressed,  and offered to guests
A new wine, to see if it would pass the test.
Jin Ling elites came out warmly,
To bid me farewell for my journey.
Those travelling and those who are not,
All drained their glasses and finished their lot.
Please try asking the river flowing east ,
When our feelings for one another would cease.

Jin Ling金陵 was founded during the time of the Warring States (circa 8th Century BC) and is now Nanjing. 南京.
Author: Li Bai, the most celebrated poet in Tang Dynasty, (701-762).
Willow "flowers"花 in the Chinese text meant willow branches. The word "flower" was necessary to bring about the last word
"aroma"香 in association and to rhyme the second line of the verse.
"Wu girl" 吳姬in the original text meant a girl of the city. Jin Ling 金陵used to be the capital of the state of Wu, 吳  five centuries
before the time of the author, c.200 AD.
The process of pressing was necessary to extract the new wine from its residue through filtering.   
"East flowing water" 東流水in the texts refers to the River Yangtze flowing through Nanjing.

Poem 18
宣州謝朓樓餞別校書叔雲                                                 李  白
棄我去者昨日之日不可留;
亂我心者今日之日多煩憂。
長風萬里送秋雁,
對此可以酣高樓。
蓬萊文章建安骨,
中間小謝又清發。
俱懷逸興壯思飛,
欲上青天覽明月。
抽刀斷水水更流,
舉杯消愁愁更愁。
人生在世不稱意,
明朝散髮弄扁舟。
Farewell to Uncle Yun in Xie's Tower                             Li Bai
The by-gone days that forsook me,
Were days that couldn’t be stayed.
Today is the day that ravels me,
And causes disarray.
Setting off is an autumn crane ,
In a fair wind for ten thousand miles away.
Let's drink to that if we may,
In this tower, before you're on your way.
Your literal style like Jian An  and Fung Lai ,
And Xie's elegance also stands high.
Our romantic temperaments want to fly,
To embrace the moon in the sky.
With a blade one tries in vain
To sever water but it flows more.
With wine I try to kill the pain
In my heart but it feels more.
Life is never what we want it to be,
So go on a boat, let down your hair and be free.

Uncle Yun叔雲: Li Yun李雲was a clansman of the author in the rank of uncle.
Xie's Tower謝朓樓 was a tower named after the mayor of the city of Xuan, 宣州 who was also noted for his achievements as
a poet.
Author:  Li Bai, the most celebrated poet in Tang Dynasty (701-762).
An analogy to Li Yun.
Jieng An建安: A period in Han, which was noted for its essays.
"Fung Lai"蓬萊 is a legendary fairy island in the sea. Li Yun worked in the State Secretariat and the records there were implied
to be as secretive as the fairy island
Ancient Chinese used to tie their hair up and wear attires on their heads. Letting down the hair suggested retired life with no
official attachment.

Poem 19
關 山 月                                                                           李 白
明月出天山,蒼茫雲海間。長風幾萬里,吹度玉門關。
漢下白登道,胡窥青海灣。由來征戰地,不見有人還。
戍客望邊邑,思歸多苦顏。高樓當此夜。嘆息未應閒。
Moon over Mountain Pass                                               Li Bai
A bright moon rose from Tian Shan ,
Breaking through a sea of clouds to shine.
Sweeping from thousands of miles away,
The wind  reached the pass of Jade Gate.   
At Bai-deng  the Han Emperor was once embarrassed,
By Tu-fans  gloating over the Lake  to harass.
This is a battleground as of old,
Rarely people return alive and whole.
Frontier solders keeping watch from their base,
Homesickness appeared on their face.
In high chambers wives watching the same moon,
Sighed unceasingly for their husbands marooned.

Tian Shan 天山is now known as Qi-lian Shan祁連山 at the north-west of Gansu  Province甘肅省.   Qi-lian meant sky or heaven in
Hun’s dialect.        
The wind: implying the invading foreign tribes.
Jade Gate玉門關: Its site is to the west of Dun-huang, 敦煌 a gateway at China's  frontier  to the West.
Bai-deng白登: The first Emperor of the Han Dynasty漢高祖 fought the Huns near  Bai-deng and was besieged for 7 days before
relief.
The original text mentioned “wu”, 胡meaning foreign tribes generally. In this case it  meant the Tu-fans吐蕃  who made
frequent incursions into the territories of Tang.
Lake: meant Lake Qing-hai, 青海now in Qing-hai Province. 青海省

Poem 20
怨  情                                                                     李  白
美 人 捲 珠 簾 , 深 坐 顰 蛾 眉 。
但 見 淚 痕 濕 , 不 知 心 恨 誰 。
Resentment                                                           Li Bai
By a window is a lady fair,
Blinds rolled up with care.
Eyebrows knitted she sat,
Sinking in her seat, upset.
Traces of tears on her cheeks can be seen,
There is no idea whom she has grudge in.

Poem 21
黃 鶴 樓                                                             崔 顥
昔人己乘黃鶴去,此地空餘黃鶴樓。
黃鶴一去不復返,白雲千載空悠悠。
晴川歷歷漢陽樹,芳草萋萋鸚鵡洲。
日暮鄉關何處是,煙波江上使人愁。
Yellow Crane Pavilion                                       Cui Hao (704-754)
Gone with the crane in the Pavilion,
The immortals had flown away;
Leaving it a historical oblivion,
Only a name which remains today.
One could not expect the crane to return,
That the white clouds in the sky had learnt.
Across the expanse of the water one sees,
The city of Han-yang  and its trees.
Parrots' island lies in between,
With fragrant grass vividly green.
When the evening sun is setting in,
I scan where my home could have been.
The haze over where the waters flow,
Does not render a yearning heart consoled.

Li Bai, the most talented poet of the time, came to the same pavilion but did  not leave any poem, saying: "The scenery is
before me but I cannot compose,  since Cui Hao’s poem has already done so."
Author: Cui Hao, Tang Poet (704 ?-754) whose early poems were thought to  be filled with levity. However, this poem which
was a later composition  earned  high repute and is thought to be the best of its kind.
Han-yang漢陽 was west of Wu Chang 武昌 and North of Han River漢水 .  Since it is to the north of the river, it was known as
"yang"陽.

Poem 22
兵 車 行                                                                  杜 甫
車轔轔,馬蕭蕭,行人弓箭各在腰,
耶孃妻子走相送,塵埃不見咸陽橋。
牽衣頓足攔道哭,哭聲直上干雲霄。
道旁過者問行人,行人但云點行頻。
或從十五北防河,便至四十西營田。
去時里正與裹頭,歸來頭白還戍邊。
邊亭流血成海水,武皇開邊意未已。
君不聞漢家山東二百州,千村萬落生荊?
緃有健婦把鋤犂,禾生隴畝無東西。
況復秦兵耐苦戰,被驅不異犬與雞。
長者雖有問,役夫敢申恨?
且如今年冬,未休關西卒。
縣官急索租,租稅從何出?
信知生男惡,反是生女好;
生女猶得嫁比鄰,生男埋沒隨百草!
君不見青海頭,古來白骨無人收。
新鬼煩寃舊鬼哭,天陰雨濕聲啾啾。
Song of Soldiers and Chariots                              Du Fu (712-770)
Chariots rumbling, horses neighed,
Soldiers had bows and arrows to their waist.
Parents, wives and children came,
To bid a last good-bye.
The march off had dust spreading high,
And the main bridge  couldn’t be identified.
Outfits were tugged and fairway blocked, amongst cries,
The wailing could be heard far up in the sky.
Wayfarers were asked by passers-by,
Recurrent conscription was the answer why.
The fifteens are required to guard against Tu-fans’ harm ,
The forties, when not fighting, are garrisoned to farm.
Set off as teens with headbands done for them,
Grey-haired, still guarding in frontier camps.
In the front, soldiers’ blood never stopped to flow,
As a sea turned red would show.
All because of an Emperor  eager to expand
His frontiers to gain more land.
Do you not see all counties east of Hua Mountain,
With ten thousand villages in desolation?
Though able-bodied wives take the tiller,
Fields are weeded over, hither and thither.
The Qin  soldiers were used to war,
And known for the pains they could take.
But they were being driven in awe,
Like poultry, dog and pig.

Though elders may care to ask what they saw,
Dare conscripts demur and deprecate war?
Take for instance winter this year:
Before front soldiers had any respite there,
Rent  is exacted on the soldiers’ share.
Where from can people pay a tax so unfair?

Until then people had no understanding,
Having a son is not exactly a blessing.
It’s better to have a daughter in a family.
Since to a neighbour she can be married,
Whereas, one never knows,
Where one’s own son may be buried.
Do you not see where bare bones lie,
Unattended and unclaimed, by the Lakeside ?
New ghosts are ululating over old ghosts’ cries,
On a gloomy and drizzling day, one could be terrified.

This poem is believed to be written c. 752
Bridge: Xian-Yang Bridge咸陽橋 was at the main thoroughfare, Xian-yang Avenue in the Capital of Chang-An, leading to the
West.
Tu-fans: Foreign tribes making repeated incursions to the western frontier of China at the time. In this case, the conscripts
were sent to the north guarding area to the west of Huang-ho.
A military system in Tang Dynasty where soldiers were sent off to frontier regions to work as excavating farmers when there
was no warfare.
The conscripts were so young that their headbands had to be put on for them by local officials. In this case, it was the
municipal officer for a lane or street.
The emperor mentioned in the text was Wu Di, 武帝 in Han Dynasty漢 but it was an insinuation of the Emperor at the time of
the author, namely Tang Xuan Zong. 玄宗Both were keen to expand their empires’ frontiers. It was obvious in ancient China
that an emperor could not be openly criticized. Insinuation was therefore absolutely necessary. However, later on in the
poem when he raised the matter of  “rent tax” 租稅 he mentioned “winter this year” 今年冬. There is little doubt that he was
depicting contemporary events rather than that of Wu Di 漢武帝
(c.100BC) 850 years ago.
Shan-dong 山東in the original text meant territory east of  Hua Shan (mountain)華  山
Chang-An where the conscripts came from, was Qin 秦territory and since the era of the Warring States its people were
known as veteran soldiers.
租稅The tax in the form of rent payable to the government by the soldiers for the use of the land in their 租稅The tax in the
form of rent payable to the government by the soldiers for the use of the land in their home village, but the land were in
most cases not cultivated for reason that the soldiers were serving in the front without recess.
By the side of Lake Qing-hai, 青海now near the city of Xi-Nin西寧市, a ground over which the Tang soldiers and Tu-fans
fought for a lengthy period.

Poem 23
贈衛八處士                                                                   杜 甫
人生不相見,動如參與商。今夕復何夕?共此燈燭光。
少壯能幾時?鬢髮各巳蒼。訪舊半為鬼,驚呼熱中腸。
焉知二十載,重上君子堂。昔別君未婚,兒女忽成行。
怡然敬父執,問我來何方。問答乃未巳,驅兒羅酒漿。
夜雨剪春韮,新炊間黃粱。主稱會面難,一舉累十觴。
十觴亦不醉,感子故意長。明日隔山岳,世事兩茫茫。
To Wei Ba, the hermit                                                  Du Fu   
Rarely seeing each other, we live afar,
Like the morning and the evening star.
What makes tonight a special night?
For us to share the same candle light.
How long can youth and strength hold?
Now grey hair tells that we are old.
Old friends become fewer and fewer;
Feelings too much for me to endure.
For twenty years we've roamed,
Who'd guess today I appear at your home .
We parted as single men in our bloom,
Now your children are all fully-grown.

Pleasantly they asked of me,
Which part I came from the country.
Before I can furnish a reply,
Table was set with food and wine.

In the midnight rain the folks
Cut the chives and serve with oats.
By the host the encounter is treasured,
Wine we consumed without measure
In goblets, but we are not drunk,
Old sentiments should not be unsung.
We shall be mountains apart by the morrow;
There is no telling of this endless sorrow.

Wei Ba衛八 was an old friend of the author by the surname Wei衛 who lived as a hermit. He was 8th among his brothers
and therefore named Ba八. His other names were unknown.
Du Fu, born in Hu-nan Province, one of the most celebrated poets in Tang Dynasty  (712-770). Known as the " Poet Sage ".
詩   聖
This poem was believed to be written in 758 by the author, (aged 46) when he was on his way to Lo-yang and met his old
friend Wei Ba by chance after 20 years and was being invited to Wei Ba’s home.

Poem 24
客  至                                                                            杜 甫
舍南舍北皆春水,但見羣鷗日日來。
花徑不曾緣客掃,蓬門今始為君開。
盤飱市遠無兼味,樽酒家貧只舊醅。
肯與鄰翁相對飲,隔籬呼取盡餘杯。
Visitor                                                                          Du Fu
To the north and south of my hut the rivulets flow;
Only seagulls are daily visitors to and fro.
Hitherto unswept, the patio floor;
For my first visitor I open my humble door.
Far from market, I can only offer food of a kind,
And nothing more in a poor home, than last year's wine.
For one more company next door, do you mind?
If I shout over the fence for him, to finish off our wine.

The visitor on this occasion was the County Magistrate. : The author had made a note on this poem to the following
effect: “pleased with county magistrate Cui’s崔visit”. From the description in the poem one can see that the author was
living under meager conditions. He was therefore pleased with the honour given to him by the magistrate’s visit, despite
his humble abode.
Du Fu, one of the most celebrated Tang poets .(712-770)

Poem 25
旅夜書懷                                                                      杜 甫
細草微風岸, 危檣獨夜舟。
星垂平野闊, 月湧大江流。
名豈文章著? 官應老病休。
飄飄何所似? 天地一沙鷗。
Night thoughts during travel                                       Du Fu  
In a gentle breeze by a grassy bank,
Under a tall mast, in a lone boat I stay.
Over a wide plain, the stars hang,
And the moon rose from the River  thundering away.
By my writings should my name be known?
Because of my age  should my office  end?
Drifting like a seagull all alone,
Under a vast sky, stranded on sand.

River Yangtze or Chang-Jiang 長江(long river).
When this poem was written, the author was 54,. (765 AD)
In the first month of the year, 765, the author resigned from his office and was leaving his home with his family from
Cheng Du成都 , travelling down the River Yangtze.
Jiang 長江(long river).

Poem 26
登 高                                                                           杜 甫  
風急天高猿嘯哀,渚清沙白鳥飛迴。
無邊落木蕭蕭下,不盡長江滚滾來。
萬里悲秋常作客,百年多病獨登臺。               
艱難苦恨繁霜鬢,潦倒新停濁酒杯。
Hiking on Double 9th                                                 Du Fu
In a gusty wind and under a lofty sky,
Apes are howling ululant cries.
Over an isle with snow-white sand,
Birds gather hovering before they land.
The wood spreads far and wide without bound,
Leaves are falling with a rustling sound.
The unceasing Yangtze comes thundering on;
For a traveller, miles away from home,
Autumn doesn’t make his heart grow fond.
Aged and frail, I ascend this tower alone,
Troubling times render my mind torn.
More grey each day, my sideburns have grown;
There’s not even wine  over which to mourn,
My dismal state, only to myself known.

It has been ancient Chinese custom to perform hiking to high places and mountains on the 9th day of the 9th month of the
Chinese calendar (lunar calendar), customarily called the Double 9th Festival or simply Double 9th.  The original title was
“5 poems on the 9th” with this poem under the title登高.
Poet of Tang Dynasty (712-770). This poem was written in 767 when the author was at Kui Zhou         .
At the time, the author was obliged to abstain from wine because of his prevailing ailments.

Poem 27
登岳陽樓                                                                      杜 甫
昔聞洞庭水,今上岳陽樓。
吳楚東南坼,乾坤日夜浮。
親朋無一字,老病有孤舟,
戎馬關山北,憑軒涕泗流。
Ascending Yue-yang  Tower                                        Du Fu
I heard about the waters of
Dong Ting in the past,
Now I‘ve ascended Yue-yang Tower at last.
By these waters were the states of Wu and Chu  demarked,
Over it’s expanse, nature changes from light to dark.
Relatives and friends had no word for me,
Aged and frail, my boat is my company.
Against the Tu-fans  the mountain pass must hold,
Therefore to the North, the soldiers would go.
Leaning against this lofty window,
I cannot stop my tears flow.

Yue-yang Tower 岳陽樓was the tower of the West Gate of Yue-yang city岳陽城, overlooking   Lake Dong-ting. 洞庭湖It was built
in Tang Dynasty and repaired in Soong Dynasty.
Du Fu, born in Hu-nan Province, one of the most celebrated poets in Tang Dynasty  (712- 770).   Known as the " Poet Sage ".
Dong-ting洞庭: Lake Dong-ting is on the south bank of the Yangtze River, north of Hu-nan   Province.
Wu吳and Chu楚: State of Wu was East to the Lake and Chu on the West. Wu: A state in the  Three Kingdoms Era.(c. 200AD)  
Chu was sstate of the Warring States Era (c.200BC)
Aged: When the poem was written, Du Fu was 57 and suffering from various ailments. He and  his family lived on a boat.
He died one year later in 770 AD.
The Tu-fans invaded from the north and soldiers were deployed to defend north of the pass.

Poem 28
春    望                                                                       杜  甫
國 破 山 河 在 , 城 春 草 木 深 。
感 時 花 濺 淚 , 恨 別 鳥 驚 心 。
烽 火 連 三 月 , 家 書 抵 萬 金 。
白 頭 搔 更 短 , 渾 欲 不 勝 簪 。
Spring outlook                                                          Du Fu
A country shattered with its capital  wrecked,
Only the mountains and rivers are intact.
A city despite the return of spring,
Only grass and bushes wildly reigned.
Flowers showing the season only brought
Tears against which in vain I fought.
Even birds could cause me a fright,
Reminding me of my parted family’s plight.
The war raged on for three months old,
A home letter would worth more than gold.
My grey hair became short and rare,
To what could I pin my hat on there?

The Capital Chang-an 長 安 was lost to rebel An Lu shan 安 祿 山 with the Emperor in exile.

Poem 29
塞 下 曲                                                              盧  綸
Songs on the Wilderness                                   Lu Lun (748-799)
I
林暗草驚風,將軍夜引弓;平明尋白羽,沒在石稜中。
The wood was dark and windy in the night,
The undergrowth was shaken with might.
The general drew his bow,
And let his arrow go.
In first light he was curious where it went,
And found it embedded into a rock indent.
II
月黑雁飛高,單于夜遁逃;欲將輕騎逐,大雪滿弓刀。
Wild-geese were flying high,
There was no moon in the sky.
Attempting to break away in the night,
Shan-yu and his soldiers took flight.
Our light cavalry was giving chase,
Weapons snow-laden in the haste.

Lu Lun, Tang poet (748-799).
Shan-yu: 單于A name for the chieftain of the Hun tribes.

III
野幕敞瓊筵,    戎賀勞旋; 醉和金甲舞, 雷鼓動山川。
We laid out a great feast in full view,
Among our tents in jubilation.
Returning victorious over foes in the battlefield,
We deserved a great celebration.
In golden amour we merrily danced around,
While rolling drums shook the ground.

The title was the name of a tune of the Imperial Music Academy 樂府曲名  at the time.
Author: Li Yi, poet of Tang Dynasty (748-827), qualified as an advanced imperial scholar進士 at 21. Disillusioned by the
imperial court duties, he self-exiled to the western frontiers and spent 26 years with the armies there. He was later recalled
to the court by Xian Zong憲宗.
Chi-tang瞿塘: Chi-tang Gorge瞿塘峽, one of the three famous gorges of Yangtze River, in present day Sichuan Province四川省.

Poem 30
江 南 曲                                                              李 益  
嫁得瞿塘賈,
朝朝誤妾期。
早知潮有信,
嫁與弄潮兒。
A song south of Yangtze                                   Li Yi (748-827)
I married my husband from Chi-tang  engaged in trade,
Who always managed to miss his returning dates.
Had I known more dependable is the tide,
I would have married a lad by the seaside.

Poem 31
遊 子 吟                                                              孟 郊
慈母手中線,遊子身上衣。
臨行密密縫,意恐遲遲歸。
誰言寸草心,報得三春暉?
Song for a Traveling Son                                   Meng Jiao (751-814)
A piece of thread in the mother’s hand,
Up and down the son’s clothes it ran.
One stitch follows another,
By a mother concerned;
Waiting for her son’s early return.
How can his heart, feeble as a straw,
Return the sunny warmth of his mother at all.

Author: Meng Jiao (751-814) in his younger days lived as a hermit in Xiung  Mountain嵩 山 in He-nan Province河南省. He only
qualified as an imperial advanced scholar at the age of 46 in 796. He worked as a low ranking official in various post and
later resigned. He died while he was on his way to his appointment as an army chief of staff.

Poem 32
楓 橋 夜 泊                                                       張 繼
月 落 烏 啼 霜 滿 天 ,
江 楓 漁 火 對 愁 眠 。
姑 蘇 城 外 寒 山 寺 ,
夜 半 鐘 聲 到 客 船 。
Night berth by Maple Bridge                            Zhang Ji (c.753)
Against a setting moon, the crows caw,
The sky is covered by pelting frost.
A woeful traveler lying awake by the dyke,
Watching maples under fishing lights.
Outside the city wall of Gu Su one can tell,
Where exactly is Han Shan Temple.
For each chime of its midnight bell,
Strikes in my floating heart an echo.

Poem 33
烏 衣 巷                                                   劉 禹 錫
朱雀橋邊野草花,  
烏衣巷口夕陽斜。
舊時王謝堂前燕,
飛入尋常百姓家。
Black shirt lane                                      Liu Yu-xi (772-842)
By the bridge  over Qin-wei River,
Wild flowers and grass had grown over.
In Black Shirt Lane, nothing much differed,
And at the entrance it was the same sunset ever.
Into the halls of dignities , the swallows once flown,
But now they are finding their way in ordinary homes.

Now in Nanjing city, south of the Qin-wei River秦淮河 in Jiangsu Province江蘇省. The place  used to garrison soldiers dressed
in black during the time of the state of Wu吳, hence its name.
Poet of the Tang Dynasty (772-842). Qualified as an advanced imperial scholar at the age of 21, he spent his life in various
high court official posts and in later years was demoted as acting  prefects of provinces.
In the original text, 朱雀橋 was a floating bridge across Qin-wei River built in the Eastern Jin Dynasty 東晉 (c. 400AD), about
400 years before the time of the author.
The names mentioned in the original text were Wang-du王導 and Xie-an謝安, dignities of the  Eastern Jin period, living in
that area.

Poem 34
                                                             白 居 易
離 離 原 上 草 ,   一 歲 一 枯 榮 。
野 火 燒 不 盡 ,   春 風 吹 又 生 。
遠 芳 侵 古 道 ,   晴 翠 接 荒 城 。
又 送 王 孫 去 ,   萋 萋 滿 別 情 。
Grass                                                        Bai Ju Yi
On the meadow the grass supplely lie,
Each year, they grow and die.
Wild fires cannot kill them all,
Spring comes and again they grow tall.
Ancient paths are their favourite grounds,
In the sunshine covering ruined towns.
They see royal princes come and go,
Waving adieu with a heart of gold.

Tang poet (772-846) born in Henan 河 南, qualified as an advanced imperial scholar 進 士 in the years Jing Yuan 貞 元.
Initially he worked in the imperial secretariat as 校 書 郎;and later because of court intrigues, was demoted to Jiang Zhou
江 州 as deputy prefect 司 馬 at the age of 43. He was also posted as prefect to Hang Zhou 杭 州 and Su Zhou 蘇 州 and then
as tutor to the crown prince 太 子 少 傅.
He was minister of law 刑 部 尚 書 in 842 and died in office four years later in Luo-yang 洛 陽 at the age of 75.  He served the
reign of eight Emperors, from De Zhong 德 宗 to Huan Zhong 宣 宗 and left almost 3000 poems, which was a rare record.

Poem 35
琵 琶 行                                                  白居易
潯陽江頭夜送客,楓葉荻花秋瑟瑟。
主人下馬客在船,舉酒欲飲無管絃。
醉不承歡慘將別,別時茫茫江浸月。
忽聞水上琵琶聲,主人忘歸客不發。
尋聲暗問彈者誰?琵琶聲停欲語遲。
移船相近邀相見,添酒回燈重開宴。
千呼萬喚始出來,猶抱琵琶半遮面。
轉軸撥絃三兩聲,未成曲調先有情。
絃絃掩抑聲聲思,似訴平生不得志。
低眉信手續續彈,說盡心中無限事。
輕攏慢撚抺復挑,初為霓裳後六么。
大絃嘈嘈如急雨,小絃切切如私語。
嘈嘈切切錯雜彈,大珠小珠落玉盤。
間關鶯語花底滑,幽咽泉流水下灘。
水泉冷澀絃凝絶,凝絶不通聲漸歇。
別有幽愁暗恨生,此時無聲勝有聲。
銀瓶乍破水漿迸,鐵騎突出刀鎗鳴。
曲終收撥當心畫,四絃一聲如裂帛。
東船西舫悄無言,惟見江心秋月白。
沈吟放撥插絃中,整頓衣裳起歛容。
自言本是京城女,家在蝦蟆陵下住。
十三學得琵琶成,名屬敎坊第一部。
曲罷曾敎善才服,妝成每被秋娘妬。
五陵年少爭纏頭,一曲紅綃不知數。
鈿頭雲篦擊節碎,血色羅裙翻酒污。
今年歡笑復明年,秋月春風等閒度。
弟走從軍阿姨死,暮去朝來顏色故。
門前冷落車馬稀,老大嫁作商人婦。
商人重利輕別離,前月浮梁買茶去,
去來江口守空船,繞艙明月江水寒。
夜深忽夢少年事,夢啼妝淚紅闌干。
我聞琵琶已嘆息,又聞此語重喞喞。
同是天涯淪落人,相逢何必曾相識。
我從去年辭帝京,謫居臥病潯陽城。
潯陽地僻無音樂,終歲不聞絲竹聲。
住近湓城地低濕,黃蘆苦竹繞宅生。
其間旦暮聞何物?杜鵑啼血猿哀鳴。
春江花朝秋月夜,往往取酒還獨傾。
豈無山歌與村笛?嘔啞嘲唽難為聽。
今夜聞君琵琶語,如聽仙樂耳暫明。
莫辭更坐彈一曲,為君翻作琵琶行。
感我此言良久立,卻坐促絃絃轉急。
淒淒不似向前聲,滿座重聞皆掩泣。
座中泣下誰最多,江州司馬青衫濕。
Pi Pa Verse                                                Bai Ju-yi (772-846)
Bidding farewell to my friend in the night,
By the quayside on the Yangtze River .
Nakai flowers in the autumn moonlight,
And maple leaves in the wind quivered.
I dismounted after my friend,
Who had already stepped on deck.
We had wine cups in our hands,
But music was what we lacked.
With a dismal farewell in mind,
Little pleasure could be sought from wine.

We seemed lost, so was the moon in the river.
Then we heard the sound of pi-pa over the water,
And forgot what we were there for.
Following the sound, we discreetly called
For the fiddler but the music broke;
Only belatedly a reply was evoked.
We drew our boat near,
And invited the fiddler to appear.
In better lights we refilled our wine,
And prepared afresh to dine.

Under thousands of pleas, she slowly paced
Her debut with a pi-pa shading her face.
Tuning the peg, only a few notes she played,
But found it hard to keep her emotions at bay.
For each measure, unleashed a private sob she made,
As if delivering a plaint of her fate.
With knitted eyebrows she casually played,
To empty what her heart longed to say.
Lightly she plucked her strings with care,
Fluently playing melodies  with flair.

The heavy string was strong and fast like driven rain,
The small string delicate, like a whisper faint.
All mingled, notes played slow and forte,
Like assorted pearls, landing on a plate of jade.
Like nightingales amongst the flowers sang,
Like murmuring water flowing on shallow sand.
As the strings became frozen still,
Even flowing water turned bitterly chilled.
When for a moment all sounds froze,
From the bottom of our hearts arose
All secret woes hitherto untold,
For this moment, silence was gold.

Then suddenly a silver vase explodes;
With water splashed.
And I hear cavalry riding bold
In a sortie, with weapons clashed.
As the tune came to the end,
Sweeping the fiddles, she flicked her hand.
With the sound like fabrics torn apart,
Four strings in unison, shaking my heart.
The boats next to us turned silent and still,
Over the river, only a moon hanging in the autumn chill.
With a face full of thoughts,
She put the plectrum back into slot.
Rising, aligning her attire and she
Was as composed as one could be.

"A girl from the Capital was I," she said,
"Under Sha-mo  Hill, a home I once had.
By thirteen, in pi-pa I already made a name,
From the first group of Imperial Minstrels I came.
My talent was, even by the masters, unsurpassed,
My visage made other music girls outclassed.
Gallant young men fought to present
Gifts to me to befriend.
For every tune I played,
Countless silk pieces came my way.
Jade and silver hairpins bashed
To keep time beats and smashed.
In the revelries, silk gowns dashed
All over with wine splashed.

Frivolity carried on, year in, year out,
Spring turned autumn, I cared little about.
Then my brother joined the army one day,
And my aunt passed away.
Dawn followed dusk and my beauty faded,
Visitors were few and they shunned my gate.
Until no longer young I tarried,
And finally to a merchant I married.
He cared more for business than leaving me,
Last month he went on a trip buying tea.
All alone I wait in a boat by the quay,
A bright moon over the river is all I see.
In midnight dreams, youthful times I recall,
Down my rouged cheeks tears would fall."

I heard the tunes of pi-pa and I sighed,
Hearing the recitation, my woes multiplied.
We are both castaways amnestied,
By time and tide to a life undignified.
Despite we weren’t acquainted before,
This encounter is worthwhile after all.

Since leaving the Capital  last year in exile,
Relegated to this city , my health failed.
Void of music, for a desolate city I wail,
Not hearing flutes and strings made me ail.
I live in soggy lowland and can only find,
Bamboo and wild creepers entwined.
What did I hear from dusk to sunrise?
Only apes' and cuckoos' awful cries.
In spring mornings and autumn moon's time,
I grab a bottle and pour my lonely wine.
Aren't there mountain songs and peasant's flutes?
Aye, but their noises appear to my ears too crude.

I heard your pi-pa articulation tonight,
Opening up my ears with fairy music in flight.
Please be kind to play one more tune,
I shall compose the pi-pa lyrics for you soon.
Brooding over my words for a while she stood,
Then resumed seated and play she would.
With strings tightened and a tempo quick,
A new wailing tune had us overwhelmed and transfixed.
All those present could not but cried,
Tears too obvious for their sleeves to hide.
Which audience had most tears to come by?
A moistened gown showed that it was I.

It was a hill to the South-east of Chang-An near the tomb of a minister by the name of Tung . As a gesture of respect, his
kinsmen always dismounted when passing by. So it was known as Dismount Hill下馬陵. Later, people took the mickey out
of it and called it “Toad’s Hill”, 蝦
蟆陵 by similarity of the pronunciation of “Sha-ma” 下馬 (dismount) and “Sha-mo” 蝦蟆 (toad).
Capital of Tang was at Chang-an, 長安 now Xian 西安. Xun-Yang City. 潯陽城
The original text mentioned the “Deputy Prefect of Jiang Zhou” , 江州司馬 who was the author and his “green gown” 青衫
getting wet. Green gown was the gown for court officials of the lowest grade. It is presumed that the author, being in exile,
mentioned this for modesty.

Poem 36
江  雪                                                       柳宗元
千山鳥飛絶,萬徑人踨滅。
孤舟簑笠翁,獨釣寒江雪。
River in Snow                                          Liu Zong Yuan (773-819)
Not a bird in miles flying in the cold,
On all roads and tracks, not even a soul.
Only one old man with a grass hat  and shawl,
Fishing in his lonely boat in the snow.

Author: Liu Zong Yuan, Tang poet (773-819) noted for his simple and elegant style in poetry and also his calligraphy. He
became an advanced imperial scholar 進士  by the age of 20 in 793 and was involved in a movement in the reformation of
the government. He was later exiled to Yong Zhou  州 as Acting Prefect司馬 and later to Liu Zhou柳州 as Prefect 剌史 . He was t
herefore known in generally as Liu Liu Zhou 柳柳州 (with the name of the prefecture as his 2nd name). This poem was
written after his exile to Yong Zhou and fully reflected his state of mind to court politics.
Grass hat and shawl: Hat 笠 (of a conical shape) and shawl 簑were usually woven with palm leaves and worn by peasants
in ancient China to keep the rain out while working in the field.


Poem 37
行 宮                                                           元 稹
寥落古行宮,宮花寂寞紅。
白頭宮女在,閒坐說玄宗。
Transitory Palace                                        Yuan Zhen
An ancient palace deserted and want of mend,
Only the flowers there bloom once again.
Now grey-haired, but a maid-in-waiting  before,
Passes her time, telling stories of the Emperor.

Transitory Palace: a temporary residence of the emperor while he was on a tour.
Author: Yuan Zhen, Tang poet (779-831)  whose father died at the age of 8 and he was taught by his mother. He came 2nd
及第in the official Court Examination at the age of 15. He was a close friend of Bai Ju-yi  白居易who was 7 years to his senior.
Bai's poem once had this reference of him:
"At every post-station I must first dismount;  
Walk around the columns to see if your poems could be found."“每去驛亭先下馬,循牆繞柱覓君詩”. The style of these two poets was
so close that it was known as "Yuan-Bai" style. 元白體
This poem was written around 810, after the "An-Shih" Rebellion  安史之亂  and about 50 years after the death of Yang
Yu Huan楊玉環 (Emperor's consort) in 756. So a maid-in-waiting in her late teens at Xian Zong's玄宗 time would be about 70,
telling stories about the ex-Emperor.
Emperor: Emperor Xian Zong 玄宗 in the years of Kai Yuan開元   which were years of prosperity in the Tang Dynasty.

Poem 38
赤  壁                                                                     杜 牧
折戟沈沙鐵未銷,自將磨洗認前朝。
東風不與周郎便,銅雀春深鎖二喬。
The Red Cliff                                                          Du Mu  
A broken halberd to the bottom of Yangtze sank,
Preserved for centuries , buried in sand.
Retrieved and re-polished, it could still be,
A fine relic of a former dynasty.
Had the East wind  blown otherwise
Than Marshall Zhou  had visualised,
His country might well be overwhelmed,
With the Qiao  sisters as captives in enemy camp.

Red Cliff was site of a famous battlefield on the southern bank of the Yangtze  River and is now in Wu Chang武昌, Hu Bei
湖北 Province.
The battle took place in the Eastern Han Dynasty東漢  , the 13th Year of Jian An 建安   between the states of Wei   魏   (north
of Yangtze) and Wu  吳(south) in the Autumn of AD 208.
Du Mu, Poet of Tang Dynasty (803-852).
The poem was written circa 842 AD, when Du Mu was Prefect of Wang  Zhou黃州  剌史at the age of 40, well over 600 years
after the Battle of Red  Cliff was fought.
East wind: it was the legend that the northern invading navy were attacked by fire  at their base by the southern navy,
spread by an  easterly wind which was  unusual in autumn season and burnt all their ships upstream of the Yangtze
River.
Marshall Zhou was Zhou Yu周瑜 who led the Wu army and navy.
The Qiao sisters大喬,小喬 were famous beauties at the time in the State of Wu. One was the wife of Marshall Zhou and
the other Queen to the King of Wu.孫策
The original text mentioned “bronze bird” which refers to a tower built by Cao Cao曹曹   of the State of Wei 魏   in He-Bei
河北  for his pleasures and was known, by a huge bronze figure of a bird at the top, as Bronze Bird Tower 銅雀臺. At the
time of the battle, in fact the tower was non-existent. It was only built 2 years later in 210 AD.        

Poem 39
遣 懷                                                                            杜 牧
落魄江湖載酒行,楚腰纖細掌中輕。
十年一覺揚州夢,贏得青樓薄倖名。
Consoling one’s mind                                                  Du Mu
Travelling without purpose and idling around,
Nothing else mattered when wine was abound.
Southern beauties had slim waists  for your arm,
And could dance like butterflies on your palm.
For ten years I lived in a dream, in houses of ill fame,
And earned myself in Yang-zhou a perfidious name.

The original text mentioned 楚腰 “Chu waist”  which means the waist of girls in the State of Chu  楚. Chu was established in
the era of the Warring States  and occupied area to the South of the Yangtze River.
The legend was that a famous dancer in the Han Dynasty known, as “Zhao, the Swallow”趙飛燕  , was so light-footed that
she could dance on someone’s palm.
The original text mentioned “green houses” 青樓 which means brothels in ancient China.

Poem 40
秋夕                                                              杜 牧
銀燭秋光冷畫屏,
輕羅小扇撲流螢。
天階夜色凉如水,
臥看牽牛織女星。
Autumn Night                                               Du Mu
Silvery candles in an autumn scene,
Casting light coldly on the pictorial screen.
With tiny silk fans, children in the night,
Were after glowworms flying bright.
In the courtyard, the air was cold as water,
Lying, I could see in the sky the Altair and Vega.

Altair牽牛星 and Vega織女星 (the latter being a class 1 star) are on opposite sides of the Milky Way 銀河.

Poem 41
登樂遊原                                                         李 商 隠
向晚意不適,驅車登古原,
夕陽無限好,只是近黃昏。
Ascending Leisure Plateau                              Li Shang-yin
Late afternoon I felt a slight displeasure,
And drove my carriage up the plateau.
A gorgeous sunset I watched with leisure,
But dusk was setting in and time wouldn't hold.

Leisure Plateau: 樂遊原Originally a leisure ground for Han Emperor Xun Di宣帝. It was to the south-east of Chang An 長安 and
from its elevated position, the whole of the Capital could be overlooked.
Author:  poet and scholar in Tang Dynasty, (812-858), qualified as an advanced imperial scholar進士at the age of 25. He
was involuntarily involved in the court factional struggles (Nu-Li factional struggle牛李黨争) prevailing at the time and had
never held any high-ranking office. His poetry style was closely related to Du Mu 牡牧 and was referred to as “Li-Du” junior
小李杜.(The proper authentic poetry “Li-Du” 李杜
were Li Bai- Du Fu).  His 20 odd poems captioned as “untitled” were most popular but their main objects have always
been wooly, secretive and controversial to later critics.


Poem 42
嫦 蛾                                                            李商隱
雲母屏風燭影深,
長河漸落曉星沉。
嫦蛾應晦偷靈藥,
碧海青天夜夜心。
Moon Fairy                                                  Li Shang-yin
Under candlelight on a mosaic screen ,
Deep shadows were cast.
The Milky Way could be seen,
With the morning star subsiding last.
Stealing the immortal potion should have been
Something for Shang-Er  to regret.
For there is nothing more she would fret
Than gazing at the blue sky and sea,
Each night with her heart getting more sad.
A screen decorated with in-sets of mother-of-pearls and stones.

A screen decorated with in-sets of mother-of-pearls and stones.
Shang-Er: It was ancient Chinese legend that Shang-Er’s husband was King Hao-yi (,后羿) who was given a potion of
immortality by a goddess. She stole that potion from her husband who was infuriated and she fled to the moon, hence
becoming the Moon Fairy (the equivalent of Cynthia in Greek mythology).

Poem 43
無  題                                                            李 商 隠
來是空言去絶踨,月斜樓上五更鐘。
夢為遠別啼難喚,書被催成墨未濃。
蠟照半籠金翡翠,麝薰微度繡芙蓉。
劉郎已恨蓬山遠,更隔蓬山一萬重。
Untitled                                                        Li Shang-yin
From emptiness the dream came, and soon
It vanished again into thin air.
Up in my chamber I can see the moon,
In the early morning, it's still there.
My beloved in a distant land marooned,
A dream in vain is too much to bear.
In a hurry, a letter I have to write,
Before the ink is made to be right.

The golden leaves on my duvet in candlelight,
Was partly dim and partly bright.
Faintly the floral embroidery on my posted-net,
Was tinted by musk incense near my bed.
On a fairy island is as far
As one's mind can get,
But he's thousands-fold away,
Which makes me so sad.

Poem 44
隴西行                                                                  陳 陶  
誓掃匈奴不顧身,
五千貂錦喪胡塵。
可憐無定河邊骨,
猶是春閏夢裡人。
A song west of Lung Mountain                           Chen Tao (812-885)
Sworn to wipe out the Huns , every man
Was prepared to fight to the very end.
Five thousand gallant soldiers went,
But were all lost in foreign sands.
By the river  the pitiful bones,
Were soldiers who died unknown.
Yet in their wives’ dreams at home,
They are still each a living man.

Poem 45
金 縷 衣                                                                         杜 秋 娘
勸君莫惜金縷衣,
勸君惜取少年時。
花開堪折直須折,
莫待無花空折枝。
Cloak of Golden Threads                                              Madame Du
Please forsake your cloak of golden threads,
Please spend youthful time wisely with your head.
Gather your roses with the chance you get,
If you wait and tarry you will regret.

In "Anthology of Tang Poems" 全唐詩 the author was ascribed as anonymous. In Du Mu's preface to "Madame Du's Poetry",
she was described as of Jin Ling (now Nanjing) origin, concubine to a marshal in the frontier. She excelled in singing this
song of Cloak of Golden Threads and once sang in the imperial court. It might be for reason that she was subsequently
attributed to her name.

Poem 46
哥 舒 歌                                                        西 鄙 人
北斗七星高,
哥舒夜帶刀。
至今窥牧馬,
不敢過臨洮。
Song of Ge-shu                                           Anonymous  
Up in the night sky,
The Great Bear hanging high.
Ge-shu fully armed,
Touring a midnight round
The infamous Tu-Fan ,
Who spy on our land,
Know its different now;
And dare not cross Lin-tao .

Geshu: Originally the name of a tribe of "Tu-jue" 突厥 to the West of China. Here Geshu suggests Geshuhan哥舒翰 who was
the name of their leader, guarding the West.        
Author: "Si Pe Ren"西鄙人in the original text meant that it was somebody anonymous who was a “western frontier man”.
Great Bear大熊星座: (Ursa Major)  卝斗星座 The group of  7 stars that spread out like a bucket pointing toward the North  Star,
is also commonly known as the "Plough ".
Tu Fan: 吐蕃   Name of a tribe of Mongols to the North West of China.
Lin-tao: Now "Min County"  岷縣  of Gansu  Province甘肅 , the western end of the Great Wall of China built in Qin Dynasty秦.
(c. 3rd century BC)

Poem 47
贈     別 (1)                                                            杜 牧           
娉 娉 裊 裊 十 三 餘 , 豆 蔻 梢 頭 二 月 初 。
春 風 十 里 揚 州 路 , 捲 上 珠 簾 總 不 如 。
Farewell (1)                                                          Du Mu
Swaying with grace she walks, a thirteen plus,
Like a bud in early spring, before it does unfold.
For miles in Yang Zhou, I failed to find a lass
Who rolled up window blinds, an equal.

This poem was written abut 835 when Du Mu 杜 牧 was leaving Yang Zhou 揚 州 for Chang-an 長 安 , in tribute to a young
courtesan between thirteen and fourteen years old whom he just bade farewell.
Author, Du Mu, (803-853) Tang poet. When the author was in his early thirties, he worked as a secretarial staff 幕 僚  for
the Governor  節 度 使 at Yang Zhou 揚 州, and he was a frequent patron to the numerous brothels in the city, leading a
care-free life. See Poem 40. Later he was promoted to the capital. His superior, Governor Niu (牛 僧 孺 ) gave him some
advice in his farewell party 餞 行, showing him privately all the reports on him visiting the disorderly houses during the
years. He was fully grateful to Niu 牛 for his tolerance and changed his attitude thereafter.
裊 (音 鳥, niao),柔 美 貌 豆 簆  (mace, an East Indian spice. It only flowers in summer. In early spring, it is only budding and
therefore implies
a state of virginity.) 至 初 夏 開 花, 二 月 初 尚 未 開, 故 以 喻 處 女, 後 因 稱 少 女 處 子 為 豆 簆 年 華. 意 指 路 上 珠 簾 捲 處 , 看 到 女 子 總 不
及 作
者 所 贈 別 的 那 一 位 . (Translator: It is envisaged that Du Mu was given a ceremonial departure for his promotion to the
capital and citizens of Yang Zhou crowded to watch the possession. And ladies of easy virtue rolled up their window blinds
[horizontal bamboo strips decorated with pearls] upstairs to have a vantage view of him and waved him goodbye.)

Poem 48
贈 別  (2)                                                               杜 牧  
多 情 卻 似 總 無 情 ,         唯 覺 樽 前 笑 不 成 。
蠟 燭 有 心 還 惜 別 ,         替 人 垂 淚 到 天 明 。
Farewell (2)                                                           Du Mu
Full of passion but words fail me,
Wine cup in hand but I find no glee.
The candle has a heart for this parting night,
Dropping tears for me till day is bright.

[Translator: This poem was written, under the same heading as the previous one, to the girl courtesan he was saying
goodbye to.]

Poem 49
泊 秦 淮                                                                  杜  牧
煙 籠 寒 水 月籠 沙 , 夜 泊 秦 淮 近 酒 家 。
商 女  不 知 亡 國 恨 , 隔 江 猶 唱 後 庭 花 。
Berthing on Qin Wei River                                      Du Mu
A freezing river shrouded in haze,
A moon hiding behind lace.
I berthed on Qin Wei River
At night near a wine bar.
The sorrow of a country  lost, it seemed,                
was beyond a singer’s esteem.
A girl on a merchant’s boat in late hours,
Was singing a tune of “Palace garden flowers”.

商 女 means a girl on a merchant’s boat, in this context, a singing girl.
Wei River 淮 河, a tributary to Chang Jiang 長 江, flowing through Jinling, 金 陵 (Nanjing 南 京 nowadays).  Because it was
believed to be first irrigated in Qin dynasty 秦 朝  that it was called Qin Wei 秦 淮.
Author, Tang poet (803-853).
The kingdom of Chen 陳I in the Era of Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms.
後 庭 花 literally: back garden flowers, also known as 玉 樹 後 庭 花. It was s tune composed by the last king of the Chen
Kingdom 陳 後 主 who lost his kingdom in 589 and became a captive of the Sui Dynasty 隋 朝.. Jingling had been a capital
of the Chen Kingdom and the tune was therefore reckoned as one reminiscent of a dying kingdom. Incidentally, Tang
Dynasty ended about 50 years after the author died.

Poem 50
新 嫁 娘                                                        王 建
三 日 入 厨 下,  洗 手 作 湯 羹 。
未 諳
姑 食 性 ,  先 遣 小 姑 嘗 。
A new Bride                                                 Wang Jian
In the kitchen, hardly a bride for three days,
Making a meal I wash my hands in haste.
A new family's usual cuisine, I have no hint,
My sister-in-law can tell me with a first taste.

Author was born c.767 in Henan, an advanced imperial scholar 進 士  and once appointed deputy prefect of Shaan Zhou
陝  州 司  馬  .

                            
               ****************************************
CHINESE CHINESE
Tang  Poems
Pi Pa Verse                                        Bai Ju-yi

元 和 十 年 ,余 左 遷 九 江 司 馬 。明 年 秋 ,
送 客 湓 浦 口 ,聞 舟 中 夜 彈 琶 琵 者 。聽 其
音 , 錚 錚 然 有 京 都 聲 。問 其 人 ,本 長 安
倡 女 ,嘗 學 琵 琶 於 穆 曹二 善 才 ,年 長 色 衰
, 委 身 為 賈 人 婦 。遂 命 酒 使 快 彈 數 曲 。
曲 罷 憫 然 ,自 敘 少 小 時 歡 樂 事, 今 漂 淪
憔 悴 ,轉 徙 於 江 湖 間 。余 出 官 二 年 ,恬 然
自 安 ,感 斯人 言,是 夕 始 覺 有 遷 謫 意 。 因
為 長 歌 以 贈 之 , 凡 六 百 一 十 二 言 。命 曰
《 琵 琶  行 》。
Preface
In the tenth year of Yuen He (815AD), I was
transferred to Deputy Prefect of Giu Jiang
County. The following autumn, when I was
seeing a friend off at a ferry point at Fen River,
in the night I heard the sound of pipa coming
from a boat. I listened to the tune and noticed it
resembling melodies of the Capital. I enquired
upon the fiddler and was told that she was
once a music girl in Chang-an. She learned her
skill from two pipa masters, Mu and Cao. With
age advancing, her beauty faded and
subsequently condescended to become a
merchant’s wife. I ordered wine and requested
her to play a few tunes to her heart’s desire.
Afterwards, she was overwhelmed with
thoughts, recalling her frivolity in youthful days.
Now she is miserably uprooted, changing
abode among the rivers and lakes. I already left
as a Court official for two years, consoling
myself in circumstances as they are. Having
heard her story, I only realize tonight the feeling
of being in exile. Therefore I compose this
lengthy song, totaling 612 words, in tribute to
her, entitled “The Pipa Verse”.

(Note: the actual word count of the poem is
616. It is believed the discrepancy was caused
by subsequent erroneous copying)

Chinese beauties
Home cooking recipes
Legends
Female emperor
Threatening myths
A remarkable woman
A lustful woman
"Thunderstorm"
Chinese music
Panda in motion
Fairylands in China
Chinese opera
Powerful sisters
Yang Yu-huan
China
A HK girl's blog
Love poems
Most romantic poet
Chinese culinary art
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