Last bells in town with bronze bronze tinge the evening.
Even if I hadn’t heard the shuddering board,
the splash, the laughter, I’d have known
from the quaver of voices over water
that this is the last house in summer,
and now is the double loneliness
of missing a party you don’t even want to be at.
The T’ang poet sets out on a thousand mile journey,
minor administrative post in prospect,
the chronic war rattling around the mountains,
that might last all his life. And someone else
returns from a journey no one knows he’s been on,
feeling again the thick air of the valley,
the children so tall, and whatever happens to love
that hasn’t been used enough, has happened.
He spreads before them, as excuse or evidence,
what he has gathered, portraits of rulers and sages,
mottoes, rich duties, and archaic praises,
currency useless in this land.