The Selected Poems of Tu Fu
Moonlit Night, Thinking of My Brothers
Warning drums have ended all travel.
A lone goose cries across autumn
borderlands. White Dew begins tonight,
this bright moon bright there, over
my old village. My scattered brothers—
and no home to ask Are they alive or dead?
Letters never arrive. War comes
and goes— then comes like this again.
The last watch has sounded in K'uei-chou.
Color spreading above Solar-Terrace Mountain,
a cold sun clears high peaks. Clouds linger,
blotting out canyons below tangled ridges,
and deep Yangtze banks keep sails hidden.
Beneath clear skies: clatter of falling leaves.
And these deer at my bramble gate: so close
here, we touch our own kind in each other.
Leaving the City
It's frost-bitter cold, and late, and falling
dew muffles my gaze into bottomless skies.
Smoke trails out over distant salt mines,
snow-covered peaks angling shadows east.
Armies haunt my homeland still, and war-
drums throb in this other place. A guest
here in this river city tonight, I return
again to shrieking crows, my old friends.
A sliver of moon lulls through clear night.
Half abandoned to sleep, lampwicks char.
Deer wander, uneasy among howling peaks,
and forests of falling leaves startle cicadas.
I remember mince treats east of the river,
think of our boat adrift in falling snow . . . .
Tribal songs rise, rifling the stars. Here,
at the edge of heaven, I inhabit my absence.