Soon the temple tree's
Branches will be stripped away;
Its bark will be slashed.
Enjoy the tree's aroma;
Its scent of temple incense.
In the sky at night
Stars known as "the rice basket,"
Blossom like flowers.
All day I make rice baskets;
At night I view these flowers.
When the spring arrives
And I sit outside, working,
I am never bored.
With a chisel in my hand
I can raise flowers from stones.
The dust of our saw
Has the frangrance of flowers
In a mountain breeze.
The breeze strews our sawdust blooms
From the sharp teeth of the saw.
I really like the way the poems capture the feeling of doing physical work on a nice day in the mountains: very like some of my better work days lately.
And here's Li Po, the cheery, contemplative, drunken old crank, with a humourously macabre variation on his favourite theme, elegizing a deceased wine salesman:
Old Lao, down below in the Yellow Springs,I think I'll pour myself a glass of port and call this post done.
Must still be brewing his "Great Spring" vintage.
But without Li Po in that Terrace of Night,
To whom can he be selling his wine?
*Speaking of short poems, I can't resist quoting another of my all-time favourites. A typically intriguing Sappho fragment, the original Ionic can well be appreciated even by those untutored in that bubbling tongue:
méte moi meli méte melissa
for me neither honey nor bee