Thinking of Li Po at Sky’s End (after Tu Fu)


Thinking of Li Po at Sky’s End (after Tu Fu)

Cold wind rises at the sky’s end.
What does he consider?
And when will the geese arrive?
The rivers and lakes are full this autumn
but poets’ fates are seldom pleasant.
Demons love to see us fail.
Let’s think of dead Ch’u Yuan
and offer poems to the river.

The transliteration on reads:

Thinking of Li Po at the End of the Sky

Cold wind rise sky end
Gentleman thought resemble what?
Goose what time come?
River lake autumn water much
Literature hate fate eminent
Demons happy people failure
Respond together wronged person language
Throw poems give Miluo

According to the notes at, the wild goose is a symbol of autumn, letters and travellers in difficulties. The wronged person is Qu Yuan, a poet of the fourth century BC who drowned himself in the Miluo river – another exiled poet later threw some verses into the river as an offering to him.


47 thoughts on “Thinking of Li Po at Sky’s End (after Tu Fu)

  1. stellar. ah, here i go again…geese. back when i was still working while driving home in the late fall or early winter there were usually several flying vees of geese in the late afternoon sky. they were heading for a nearby lake for the evening. as winter progressed and the sky got progressively darker in the afternoon they would still be coming. i hope they found their way in the dark.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent, Robert! Just excellent. Reminds me of my softball days many years ago and an incident I had almost forgotten. I think the haiku I posted tonight will now interpret itself:

    sliding into second
    on my back, I call time out —
    a straggling goose!

    Liked by 1 person

      • Oh! I see from a comment to Jeff that you were in Llano yesterday, a sleepy little town just a few miles from Marble Falls where some of the best days of my life were spent! Marble Falls is much larger and busier but how about Llano? Somehow we didn’t even see Llano on our trip to MF a couple of years ago.

        Again, though your poem grabbed my heart and mind and squeezed away the years.


        Liked by 1 person

      • Llano seems much more vibrant than it did 15 years ago, but I wouldn’t call it booming. I’m sure it’s grown, but not in a bad way. I may write about my little jaunt. I returned home with 31 books…


  3. Thank you so much! I often find English translations of Asian poetry incomprehensible both because of my lack of knowledge of the cultural references and the attempt to provide a literal rather than a figurative translation. This work is beautiful and meaningful to this ignorant gaijin just as it is. The added text explanation is gravy! Thanks again!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: SHOWCASE–O at the Edges | The Rattling Bones

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