Alone, Looking for Blossoms Along the River
A poem by Tu Fu, translated by David Hinton
Who understands the grief these riverside blossoms inflict?
It makes me crazy, and there’s no one here to tell, so I go
searching for our southern neighbor, my old friend in wine,
but he’s gone ten days drinking. All I find is an empty bed.
A thick frenzy of blossoms crowding our river shorelines,
I wander along, listing dangerously, in full fear of spring.
With poems and wine against all that profusion, I endure:
arrangements for this ancient, white-haired man can wait.
Deep river repose, two or three houses in bamboo quiet,
and such goings-on: red blossoms blazing among white.
Answering spring’s radiant glories, I too have my place:
sending them off with a lovely wine on the shores of life.
Looking east to the city all smoke crowded with blossoms,
I love our little Hundred-Flower Stream tower even more:
to open gold jars and label out fine wine, calling beautiful
women to dance on embroidered mats: who could bear it?
At the monastery abbot’s grace, the river flows away east,
spring’s radiant glories idle and tired among sparse winds.
In this crush of peach blossoms open without their owner’s
empty mind, I can treasure reds deep or shallow the same.
Blossoms crowd orchard paths where the abbot’s wife lives:
thousands, tens of clustered thousands weigh branches down,
and ceaseless butterflies linger in playful dance, as exquisite
oriole song tumbles along empty and altogether its very self
translated by David Hinton in The Selected Poems of Tu Fu