Selected Poems Of Li Po

One of the advantages (and distractions of moving) is unpacking your books and seeing tomes you had forgotten about, reappear, as if by magic.

9780811213233I remember very clearly buying this book. I also remember that I didn’t really like it at the time. But, it came with me on a walk recently. It was the proper size and I had just unpacked it, so it went into my satchel and onto the road with me (or, rather, onto the sidewalk with me; actually, roads, too, because the recent Snowzilla had left many of the sidewalks unwalkable, so us pedestrians took to the streets, drivers be damned!).

Now, I’m wondering why I didn’t realize before how awesome it is.

And credit must go to the translator. While I don’t read classical Chinese, from what I know, a direct translation would be almost meaningless and certainly poetry-less. Of course, let’s be totally honest and acknowledge that classical Chinese poetry (and even contemporary Chinese poetry) translations are, in their style, vastly influenced by Ezra Pound’s translations and his interpretation of baroque spareness.

Avoiding Farewell in a Chin-Ling Wineshop

Breezes filling the inn with willow-blossom scents,
elegant girls serve wine, enticing us to try it.

Chin-ling friends come to see me off, I try to leave
but cannot, so we linger out another cup together.

I can’t tell anymore. Which is long and which short,
the river flowing east or thoughts farewell brings on?

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