East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Passing The Night At Headquarters

ebca62881b8bd846767adfd9b03ce852I sometimes post quotes and poetry here on Karavansara – I love Chinese poetry, and sometimes it feels nice to share some ancient poem on these pages, as some kind of intermission.

This is from Du Fu, a Tang Dynasty poet and one of the all-time greats. He has been called a poet-sage, and compared to a slew of Western authors, from Ovid to Beaudelaire.

This is a fine Autumn piece that fits the fleeting, early fogs I’m seeing from my window, and these nights.


Passing The Night At Headquarters

Clear autumn at headquarters,
wu-tung trees cold beside the well;
I spend the night alone in the river city,
using up all of the candles.
Sad bugle notes sound through the long night
as I talk to myself;
glorious moon hanging in mid-sky
but who looks?
The endless dust-storm of troubles
cuts off news and letters;
the frontier passes are perilous,
travel nearly impossible.
I have already suffered ten years,
ten years of turmoil and hardship;
now I am forced to accept a perch
on this one peaceful branch.

And if you know what a wu-tung tree looks like, please let me know in the comments below.

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Writing prompt – an old poem

Fleur-de-jadeTalking of masterless men, last week, I was reminded of this poem by Jia Dao, a Chinese poet from the Tang Dynasty.

For ten years I have been polishing this sword;
Its ice-sharp edge has never been put to the test.
Now I am holding it and showing it to you, sir:
Is there anyone suffering from injustice?

It sort of gets you in the mood for a story, right?
Something with action and elegance, maybe?