At the End of Spring

At the End of Spring by Po Chü-i
  • At the End of Spring by Po Chü-i
  • To Yüan Chēn (A.D. 810)
  • The flower of the pear-tree gathers and turns to fruit;
  • The swallows’ eggs have hatched into young birds.
  • When the Seasons’ changes thus confront the mind
  • What comfort can the Doctrine of Tao give?
  • It will teach me to watch the days and months fly
  • Without grieving that Youth slips away;
  • If the Fleeting World is but a long dream,
  • It does not matter whether one is young or old.
  • But ever since the day that my friend left my side
  • And has lived an exile in the City of Chiang-ing,
  • There is one wish I cannot quite destroy:
  • That from time to time we may chance to meet again.
  • (translated by Arthur Waley)

Po Chü-i (772–846) was one of the great Chinese poets of the T’ang Dynasty. He was an anti-militarist, a poet devoted to the common people, and a man who was sensitive to the social issues of his time. He was mayor of Lo­yang, the eastern capital of China, and then governor of several regions. A famous and much-loved poet during his lifetime, Po wanted his poems to be entirely clear and is said to have tried out all his new poems on an elderly peasant woman of his acquaintance to make sure that she could understand them. Po has remained an immensely popular poet in China throughout the centuries. A large body of his work has survived and Arthur Waley’s translations, done early in the 20th Century, are still in print and among the most readable translations of that ancient Chinese poet’s work.

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