A DRINKING SONG AT STONE-FISH LAKE
I have used grain from the public fields, for distilling wine. After my office hours I have the wine loaded on a boat and then I seat my friends on the bank of the lake. The little wine-boats come to each of us and supply us with wine. We seem to be drinking on Pa Islet in Lake Dongting. And I write this poem.
Stone-Fish Lake is like Lake Dongting —
…With the mountain for a table, and the lake a fount of wine,
The tipplers all are settled along the sandy shore.
Though a stiff wind for days has roughened the water,
Wine-boats constantly arrive….
I have a long-necked gourd and, happy on Ba Island,
I am pouring a drink in every direction doing away with care.
Rough were the mountain-stones, and the path very narrow;
And when I reached the temple, bats were in the dusk.
I climbed to the hall, sat on the steps, and drank the rain- washed air
Among the round gardenia-pods and huge bananaleaves.
On the old wall, said the priest, were Buddhas finely painted,
And he brought a light and showed me, and I called them wonderful
He spread the bed, dusted the mats, and made my supper ready,
And, though the food was coarse, it satisfied my hunger.
At midnight, while I lay there not hearing even an insect,
The mountain moon with her pure light entered my door….
At dawn I left the mountain and, alone, lost my way:
In and out, up and down, while a heavy mist
Made brook and mountaingreen and purple, brightening everything.
I am passing sometimes pines and oaks, which ten men could not girdle,
I am treading pebbles barefoot in swift-running water —
Its ripples purify my ear, while a soft wind blows my garments….