On the Heights
Du Fu (712-770 CE)
The wind is keen and the sky wide,
apes howl mournfully;
the islet is clear and its sand white,
birds wheel round and round.
In the boundless forest swirling leaves
go rustling, rustling by;
down the endless river surging waves
come rolling, rolling, on.
I am a constant traveler
this melancholy autumn—
an old man now, racked by sickness,
I scale these heights alone.
This life, so hard, full of bitter pain,
has turned my hair to frost,
left me so poor that my last cup
of cloudy wine is gone.
© 2004 by Keith Holyoak (translator)
First printed in Cumberland Poetry Review (2004)