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The Selected Poems of Tu Fu



Moonlit Night, Thinking of My Brothers



Warning drums have ended all travel.

A lone goose cries across borderland


autumn. Dew first chills frost-white

tonight. This moon’s bright over our 


old village, my brothers scattered, no

home to ask if they’re alive or dead.


Letters sent never arrive. War comes

and goes—then comes like this again.




Dawn Landscape



The last watch has sounded in Amble-Awe.

Radiant color spreads above Solar-Terrace


Mountain, then cold sun clears high peaks.

Mist and cloud linger across layered ridges,


and earth split-open hides river sails deep.

Leaves clatter at heaven’s clarity. I listen,


and face deer at my bramble gate: so close

here, we touch our own kind in each other.





Night at the Tower



Yin and yang cut brief autumn days short. Frost and snow

clear, leaving cold night wide-open at the edge of heaven.


Marking the fifth watch, grieving drums and horns erupt.

Star River, shadows trembling, drifts Triple-Gorge depths.


War’s pastoral weeping filling homes far and wide, tribal

woodcutters and fishermen trail wild song here into skies. 


History’s heroes, history’s villains: all dark earth in the end.

And the story of our lives just opens away—vacant, silent.





Opposite a Post-Station, My Boat

Moonlit Beside a Monastery




The boat mirroring crystalline moonlight

deep into the night, I leave candles unlit.


Golden monastery beyond green maples,

crimson post-tower beside lucent water:


faint, drifting from the city, a crow’s cry

fades. Full of wild grace, egrets drowse.


Hair lit white, guest of rivers and lakes,

I tie blinds open and sit alone, sleepless.


Leaving the City



It's frost-bitter cold, and late, and falling

frost traces my gaze all bottomless skies.


Smoke trails out over distant salt mines.

Snow-covered peaks slant shadows east.


Armies haunt my homeland still, and war

drums throb in this far-off place. A guest


overnight here in this river city, I return 

again to shrieking crows, my old friends.





A sliver of moon lulls through clear night.

Half abandoned to sleep, lampwicks char.


Deer roam, uneasy among howling peaks,

and falling leaves startle locusts. Suddenly,


I remember mince treats east of the river,

and that boat drifting through falling snow.


Tribal song trails out, rifling the stars. Here

at the edge of heaven, I inhabit my absence.





8th Moon, 17th Night: Facing the Moon



The autumn moon is still round tonight.

In this river village, isolate old wanderer


hoisting blinds, I return to its brilliance,

and propped on a cane, follow it further:


radiance rousing hidden dragons, bright

scatters of birds aflutter. Thatched study


incandescent, I trust to this orange grove

ablaze: clear dew aching with fresh light.





Returning Late



Past midnight, eluding tigers on the road, I return

home in mountain darkness. Family asleep inside,


I watch the Northern Dipper drift low to the river,

and Venus lofting huge into empty space, radiant.


Holding a candle in the courtyard, I call for more

light. A gibbon in the gorge, startled, shrieks once.


Old and tired, my hair white, I dance and sing out:

goosefoot cane, no sleep . . . Catch me if you can!

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