More Translations from the Chinese/Invitation to Hsiao Chü-Shih

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More Translations from the Chinese  (1919)  by Bai Juyi, translated by Arthur Waley
Invitation to Hsiao Chü-Shih


[Written when Governor of Chung-Chou]

Within the Gorges there is no lack of men;
They are people one meets, not people one cares for.
At my front door guests also arrive;
They are people one sits with, not people one knows.
When I look up, there are only clouds and trees;
When I look down—only my wife and child.
I sleep, eat, get up or sit still;
Apart from that, nothing happens at all.
But beyond the city Hsiao the hermit dwells;
And with him at least I find myself at ease.
For he can drink a full flagon of wine
And is good at reciting long-line poems.
Some afternoon, when the clerks have all gone home,
At a season when the path by the river bank is dry,
I beg you, take up your staff of bamboo-wood
And find your way to the parlour of the Government House.

  1. Nos. 37, 38, 39, and 40 were written when the poet was Governor of a remote part of Ssechuan,—in the extreme west of China.