By the Lake
By Tu Fu
The old fellow from Shao-ling weeps with stifled sobs as he walks furtively by
the bends of the Sepentine on a day in spring. In
the waterside palaces the thousands of doors are locked. For whom have
the willows and rushed put on their fresh greenery?
I remember how formerly, when the Emperor’s rainbow banner made its way
into the South Park, everything in the park
seemed to bloom with a brighter color. The First Lady of the Chao-yang
Palace rode in the same carriage as her lord in
attendance at his side, while before the carriage rode maids of honor
equipped with bows and arrows, their white horses
champing at golden bits. Leaning back, face skywards, they shot into the
clouds; and the Lady laughed gaily when a bird fell to
the ground transfixed by a well-aimed arrow. Where are the bright eyes and
the flashing smile now? Tainted with
blood-pollution, her wandering soul cannot make its way back. The clear
waters of the Wei flow eastwards, and Chien-ko is
far away: between the one who has gone and the one who remains no
communication is possible. It is human to have feelings
and shed tears for such things; but the grasses and flowers of the lakeside
go on for ever, unmoved. As evening falls, the city is
full of the dust of foreign horseman. My way is towards the South City, but
my gaze turns northward.

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