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LIU, Zongyuan

River Snow

A thousand mountains, no sign of birds in flight;

Ten thousand paths, no trace of human tracks.

In a lone boat, an old man, in rain hat and straw raincoat,

Fishing alone, in the cold river snow.

The Song Of The Caged Goshawk

High in the hiss of shrill chill winds, in league with roughneck frost,

The skyward-striking scouring goshawk veers through dawnlit day.

Thick mists are riven, closed clouds cleft, the rainbow hacked in half.

He thunders by, bolts, blazes, skims low hills and is away.

The fell swoosh of his killstroke quills cuts through the thorn and bush,

He falls to poach a fox or hare then soars, long gone, in gray.

With fur-flung claws and blood-drunk beak, scourge of a billion birds,

He stands alone, and scans the world- the fierce, proud Lord of Prey.

Then molten months and blistering winds burst on him unawares.

His moulted feathers fall. Hewn in the heart, he broods at bay.

The grassborn rats and cats he prized become his persecution.

Ten times a night he stares about in shellshock and dismay.

"I have one wish: for fall to blow the sky-high note of freedom.

I'd moult this fettering cage, scale clouds and go my wild winged way."

(Translation: A.Z. FOREMAN)

Dwelling By A Stream

I had so long been troubled by official hat and robe

That I am glad to be an exile here in this wild southland.

I am a neighbour now of planters and reapers.

I am a guest of the mountains and woods.

I plough in the morning, turning dewy grasses,

And at evening tie my fisher-boat, breaking the quiet stream.

Back and forth I go, scarcely meeting anyone,

And sing a long poem and gaze at the blue sky.

Travelling on the Southern Valley Path to a Deserted Village on an Autumn Morning

The end of autumn- there’s heavy frost and dew;

At dawn, I rise and go to the hidden valley.

Yellow leaves cover the stream and bridge,

In the empty village, just ancient trees.

Cold flowers are scattered, each alone,

The hidden stream breaks off, and reappears.

My own heart’s plans are long forgotten now,

What can it be that startles the deer?