AN ANCIENT CRYPUS TRAVELS ACROSS TIME ( 杜甫; pinyin: Dù Fǔ; 712 – 770) Gu Bo Xing
At the front entrance of Kong Ming shrine, an ancient cyprus shines,
Root anchors into rocks, bronze like verdant branches, spread out fine.
Frosted bark, with slippery sheen in rain, measures forty spans around,
Jets into the dark sky at two thousand feet, it complements the surround.
At an opportune time, place and event, the master and his lord meet,
The tree epitomizes mutual devotion, remains still in time, to greet.
Air turbulence shifts clouds and rain to Wuxia Gorge, its vastness expands,
From snowy mountains to crprus, the moon casts its reflection, the cold stands.
In bygone days, remembrance of eastern pavilion and hut, my mind meanders,
To a shared secluded temple, where the military commanders and his lord, gather.
In the outskirt of an ancient plane, the giant trunk of the crypus, towers,
Without red and black painting and murals, chamber is empty and tatters.
The crypus spread far and wide, the earth is firmly held,
In the dimmed and lonely heights, violent wind is quelled.
The strength from heaven helps to sustain,
The power of creator, stand upright to gain.
To prevent a great hall from collapse, strong rafters and beams are required,
Even ten thousand oxen would turn heads and wonder the weight they mired.
Humble in its inner strength, the world of man is amazed,
To fell without trimming, the utility cannot be appraised.
Despite hearty intention, termites could invade and erode,
Its fragrant leaves always provide phoenix with good abode.
Ambitious scholars and reclusive hermits do not sigh and resent,
In the past, great talents are always hard to bend ideas and dent.
Du Fu was one of three great poets of Tang Dynasty. I regret to comment that all three poets suffered disappointment in their bureaucratic pursuits, notably Li Bei. Qu Bo Xing was written in seven-character regulated verses, with phonic sounds that cannot be translated. Instead I use end-rhyme to make reading in English easier. I hope that my translation is an improvement. The title Xing, means travel or action in deeds and words. I take the liberty to translate it as a travel across time/space dimension, in the spirit of the poetry. Some translate the title as “Ballad of an Ancient Crypus”, as it is a lyrical poem, with historical events juxtaposed and transposed with natural scenes. The pun in the last two lines reflect the disappointment of Chinese intellectuals down the dynasties.