To Tu Fu (after Li Po)


Yet another adaptation. This was a bit more difficult than other recent pieces, in part because I wanted more detail in the first line. With some difficulty, I refrained from adding it.

To Tu Fu (after Li Po)

I arrive, finally, at this:
above me, Shaqiu City
among the ancient trees
and the autumn winds at sunset.

Lu wine can’t make me drunk,
These songs do nothing for me.
My thoughts flow to you like the
Wen River on its journey south.

And here’s the transliteration on

Sent to Du Fu below Shaqiu City

I come finally what thing
High lie Sha qiu city
City beside are ancient trees
Sun set join autumn sounds

Lu wine not can drunk
Qi song vain again feel
Think you resemble Wen water
Mighty immense send south journey


32 thoughts on “To Tu Fu (after Li Po)

  1. I have often wondered how some poems are translated from language to language without losing or distorting intent of the poet. It is also of interest as the translation reveal how people of different cultures think in different patterns. One simple example is in English and Spanish , English says “big river” and Spanish says “river big”.


    • That is my hope, too. The version presented me with several unanswered questions. A collaborator with Chinese-language skills would have eased the way.


      • Right. I’ve seen the Seaton translation and it is very liberal. I won’t say “wordy” because I really like what Seaton does in inhabiting these poems and giving them a real just-written feel. But he is certainly not worried about concision as much as spirit.


  2. I think you have created something very inspiring, and specifically yours, from the words in the transliteration. I don’t think it matters that the original might have had different meanings, which I sense it might have.


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