Insomnia – Lu Yu

Even when I fall asleep early,
My nights are long and full of bitterness.
Tonight, tortured with insomnia,
Memories of the past flood back
Until they have exhausted me.
Alone in the house beside a smokey lamp,
I rub my heavy eyelids
And idly turn the pages of my notebook.
Again and again I scratch my head
And trim my brush and stir the heavy ink.
The hours go by. The moon comes
And stands in the open door,
White and shining like molten silver.
Suddenly I am back, sailing on Ts’ai Fong River
With the fellows of my youth,
Back in Yuen village.
Oh wonderful mountains! Oh noble boys!
How is it that I have lived so long
And never once gone back to visit you?
-Lu Yu

Translated by Kenneth Rexroth


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