An Invitation To Li Po
Tsui Tsung-chi (c. 8th Century), Chinese poet
translated by Shigeyoshi Obata (1888-1971)

In the cool autumn month - the Eighth or the Ninth -
White is the dew, and desolate the garden arbor.
As I sat weary, devoid of the heart's buoyancy,
I heard the wind whisper to the leaves on the tree-top,
And longed to see some friend, a man of learning and valor,
With whom I could discourse over the past and the present,
When suddenly who should come but you, Honorable Li.
I greeted you with joy, regretting only it had not been sooner.
I clapped my hands at your enchanting utterances;
We talked metaphysics; we bubbled with laughter.
You expounded the vicissitudes of the past dynasties,
And made visible the exploits of kings and conquerors.

A knapsack on your back, filled with books,
You go a thousand miles and more, a pilgrim.
Under your sleeve there is a dagger,
And in your pocket a collection of poems.
Your eyes shine like luminous orbs of heaven
When you recite your incomparable songs and odes.
You sip wine and twang your lute strings
When the winter's breath congeals the crystalline frost.
To-day I laid bare before you
All things long stored in my heart.

Now my family has a villa,
Situated on the north side of Mount Sung.
One sees the bright moon rise over the peak,
And the chaste beams silver the transparent stream.
The clouds scatter, and the house is quiet;
The passing wind bears the aroma of pine and cassia.
If you will deign to make a visit thither with me,
I will not forget the honor for a thousand years.

from The Works of Li Po, the Chinese Poet (1921)

courtesy of