Immortals of the
Du Fu (712-770), Chinese poet
Translated by Shigeyoshi Obata (1888-1971)
Chi-chang rides his horse, but reels
As on a reeling ship.
Should he, blear-eyed, tumble into a well,
He would lie in the bottom, fast asleep.
Ju-yang Prince must have three jugfuls
Ere he goes up to court.
How copiously his royal mouth waters
As a brewer's cart passes by!
It's a pity, he mournfully admits,
That he is not the lord of Wine Spring.
Our minister Li squanders at the rate
Of ten thousand tsen per day;
He inhales like a great whale,
Gulping one hundred rivers;
And with a cup in his hand insists,
He loves the Sage and avoids the Wise.
Tsung-chi a handsome youth, fastidious,
Disdains the rabble,
But turns his gaze toward the blue heaven,
Holding his beloved bowl.
Radiant is he like a tree of jade,
That stands against the breeze.
Su Chin, the religious, cleanses his soul
Before his painted Buddha.
But his long rites must needs be interrupted
As oft he loves to go on a spree.
As for Li Bai, give him a jugful,
He will write one hundred poems.
He drowses in a wine-shop
On a city street of Chang-an;
And though his sovereign calls,
He will not board the imperial barge.
"Please your Majesty," says he,
"I am a god of wine."
Chang Hsu is a caligrapher of renown,
Three cups makes him the master.
He throws off his cap, baring his pate
Unceremoniously before princes,
And wields his inspired brush, and lo!
Wreaths of cloud roll on the paper.
Chao Sui, another immortal, elate
After full five jugfuls,
Is eloquent of heroic speech –
The wonder of all the feasting hall.
from The Works of Li Po, the Chinese Poet (1921)
courtesy of vintagewinepoems.com