Bashō's Road

to the small poem and the quiet voice within

du fu | seven for the flowers near the river

1

The riverside flowers
are driving me crazy

because there’s no way
to describe their effect

I went to see
my neighbor and fellow drinker

he’s on a ten-day bender
all I found was an empty bed.

2

Flowers in crowds, shoals, galaxies
swarm and tangle by the river

I don’t walk I stagger
spring knocks me out

two things I can still manage
wine and poetry

you flowers
have pity on a white-haired man.

3

A few houses here
where the river is deep and the bamboos quiet

but these flowers
this red and white flirtation

and what can I give
in return?

yo, spring!
have some of this good wine.

4

Over to the east
Chengdu’s flowers are lost in smoke

and Hundred Blossom Tower
has it worse

who can afford that place—
wine in gold cups

dancing girls
in plush surroundings?

5

On the other side of the river
here’s Abbot Huang’s grave

spring light seems drowsy here
leaning against the breezes

a mass of peach blossoms
waiting to be picked

what do I want
a red one or a pink one?

6

Mrs. Huang’s garden
flowers engulfing the paths

thousands
weighing the branches

butterflies move pause move pause
it’s a dance

and the adorable orioles
know the appropriate music.

7

It’s not that I love them so much
I’m likely to die along with them

but I know I’ll age more quickly
when they’re gone

clusters, don’t wither and droop
so quickly

little buds, don’t rush it
open slowly!

[from DU FU A Life in Poetry, Translated by David Young, Knopf, 2010]

Editor’s Note: This is one magnificent translation, collection. –Norbert Blei

8 Comments

  1. Alice D'Alessio

    May 13, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    This is wonderful! Thanks for spring flowers on a rainy day.

  2. “yo, spring!
    have some of this good wine.”
    Now why didn’t I think of that?
    I absolutely loved this.

  3. Ahhhhh! Du Fu. Good part of being a wandering poet and drinking–the flowers. All I ever saw was a mahogany bar with a stale smell.

  4. Du Fu ? Outstanding & Thank You For Posting
    Du Fu !

    Penitentiary Garden

    White

    Roses

    &

    White

    Chrysanthemums

    Bunched

    Together

    In

    Full

    Shade

    Ed Markowski

  5. Thank you, Norb. Maybe tomorrow, I’ll look for the flowers here…this was today’s activity:

    TODAY’S MAJOR EVENTS
    I DROVE THE TRACTOR ALONG WOODS EDGE
    STOPPING AT THE OLD MUSHROOM PLACE.
    HARD WORK, BUT I FOUND A MOREL.

    BACK HOME I CUT IT IN TWO,
    WASHED THE PORTIONS
    AND PLACED THEM IN A SEE-THRU BAG.

    AS I MOVED TO THE REFRIGERATOR
    I ASKED MYSELF,
    WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?
    A SINGLE MUSHROOM, A LITTLE OVERRIPE,
    MAYBE THROWING OUT SPORES?

    I GRABBED A WALKING STICK,
    AMBLED TO A SHADED PLACE
    NEAR THE BACKYARD PRAIRIE,
    AND GENTLY PLACED THE HALVES
    ON A PATCH OF BARE SOIL.

  6. I love Du Fu. He grasps joy from every moment, even
    though he is evidently old and “poor”, though no man
    with such a spirit cuold ever really be poor.

    The other thing about his poetry is that it comes from
    probably a far back time, and certainly from a far country,
    and yet…and yet how easily we relate because it remains
    contemorary to our time and place.

    I don’t know where and how you find these gems, Norb,
    but they are like mayflowers laid on our door.

    I don’t walk I stagger
    Spring knocks me out.

    Two things I can still manage
    wine and poetry

  7. Du Fu evidently is old and “poor” though no one with such a spirit could really be poor, but how filled wtih delight his life is! A delight that spills over to us.

  8. Robert M. Zoschke

    May 16, 2010 at 3:17 am

    Potently Intriguing Choice of Post here Nazzzz…reminds me of Kerouac’s 12th Chorus of Desolation Blues:

    Little weird flower,
    why did you grow?
    Who planted you
    on this god damned hill?
    Who asked you to grow?
    Why dont you go?
    What’s wrong with yr. orange tips?
    I was under the impression
    that you were sposed to be
    some kind of perfect nature.
    Oh, you are?
    Just jiggle in the wind. I see.

Leave a Reply

© 2016 Bashō's Road

Theme by Anders Noren adapted for M.etropolis by RavanHUp ↑