More Translations from the Chinese/To His Brother Hsing-Chien

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[42] TO HIS BROTHER HSING-CHIEN

[A.D. 820]

Can the single cup of wine
We drank this morning have made my heart so glad?
This is a joy that comes only from within,
Which those who witness will never understand.
I have but two brothers
And bitterly grieved that both were far away;
This Spring, back through the Gorges of Pa,
I have come to them safely, ten thousand leagues.
Two sisters I had
Who had put up their hair, but not twined the sash;[1]
Yesterday both were married and taken away
By good husbands in whom I may well trust.
I am freed at last from the thoughts that made me grieve,
As though a sword had cut a rope from my neck.
And limbs grow light when the heart sheds its care:
Suddenly I seem to be flying up to the sky!
*********
Hsing-chien, drink your cup of wine
Then set it down and listen to what I say.
Do not sigh that your home is far away;
Do not mind if your salary is small.
Only pray that as long as life lasts,
You and I may never be forced to part.


  1. I.e., got married.