Dreams of the Tang Dynasty #1

The moon shines like a phosphorescent pearl,
Washing the pines and water in a silver glow.
I’ve walked this wooded path many nights;
Singing songs to the heavenly river above
About this earthly river below.
Sitting on my favorite rock,
I write these words with water on stone,
“How many years do I have left?
Does any man know?”
And like a dream,
I watch the words evaporate
Up into the void of the sky.
AD 889

– 龙火花 Long HuoHua

Born Approx AD820 – Died AD895
Timeline Of Major Events During Long’s Life:

AD840 – Earliest known poems by Long
841 – Yu XuanJi is Born
846 – Bai JuYi dies
848 – Emperor Wuzong persecutes Buddhists, Shuts down temples across empire.
858 – Major flood killing tens of thousands (including XinMei) and destabilizing dynasty
863 – Long Starts affair with Yu XuanJi
866 – Long gets sent on official duty to Chongqing
867 – Yu XuanJi is Executed
875 – Huang Chao’s Rebellion
881 – Huang Chao Captures Chang’An
883 – Capitol retaken, Huang Chao Rebellion Ends
883 – Tang Dynasty Starts Decline
895 – Long HuoHua Dies
AD907 – Tang Dynasty Falls


Sunday Waters

On a Sunday by the water
Only the crickets make sound
And only the dragonflies know I’m here.
I go through my phone
And I realize there’s no one there
But I have my books
And I have my rock
By the old rotten tree
And I have a thousand songs
Memorized in my head,
Now, if only I spoke dragonfly.


River Haiku

This river is like
A woman. She holds my heart
in her throbbing hand.


My bare feet slip on the creekbed.
The water is the perfect temperature
And I’d jump right in
If it weren’t for the books and beer in my backpack.
My feet search cautiously for that foothold
Trying not to slice them right open.
This river’s bed is cruel to lovers too timid,
But she is sweet to my broken modern heart
Which is slowly immersed in her peaceful flow
Washing away all the trivial worries in my life
And I know now
Why God set aside a day of rest
And I thank him for this loyal friend
This wondrous river.

Country House

I planted a hundred mulberry trees
And thirty acres of rice.
Now I have plenty of silk and grain,
And can afford to entertain my friends.
In the spring I plant rice.
In the  Autumn I gather chrysanthemums
And perfume the  wine with their petals.
My wife enjoys being hospitable.
My children like to serve.
Late afternoon, we give a picnic
At the back of the overgrown garden
In the shade of the elms and  willows.
My friends drink until they are inspired.
The fresh breezes cool the heat of the day.
After everyone has gone home,
I want to walk out under the Milky Way,
And look up at the countless stars
That watch me from heaven.
I still have  plenty of jugs in the cellar.
Nobody will prevent me
From opening some more tomorrow.

-Ch’u Ch’uang I

This poem is an expression of exactly what I want out of life.

Translated by Kenneth Rexroth