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Li Po on flutes, monkeys, and mountains

By Li Po / December 23, 1986



Li Po is considered one of China's finest poets. He grew up in Szechuan. In 742, after traveling extensively through the Yangtze valley, he was summoned to the court of Emperor Hs"uan Tsung. Later, he was exiled, then resumed his travels. Fantasy and spontaneity set Li Po apart from other poets of his time. These poems were translated by Burton Watson. Autumn Cove At Autumn Cove, so many white monkeys, bounding, leaping up like snowflakes in flight! They coax and pull their young ones down from the branches to drink and frolic with the water-borne moon. Still Night Thoughts Moonlight in front of my bed - I took it for frost on the ground! I lift my eyes to watch the mountain moon, lower them and dream of home. Thinking of East Mountain It's been so long since I headed for East Mountain - how many times have the roses bloomed? White clouds have scattered themselves away - and this bright moon - whose house is it setting on? Spring Night in Lo-yang - Hearing a Flute In what house, the jade flute that sends these dark notes drifting, scattering on the spring wind that fills Lo-yang? Tonight if we should hear the willow-breaking song, who could help but long for the gardens of home? Summer Day in the Mountains Too lazy to wave the white plume fan, stripped to the waist in the green wood's mist I loose my headcloth, hang it on a stony wall, bare my topknot for the pine winds to riffle. From ``The Columbia Book of Chinese Poetry,'' translated and edited by Burton Watson, copyright 1984 Columbia University Press. By permission.

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