I had occasion to tell a visitor
about an old trip I took through
the gorges of the Yangtze
Long ago I made that journey, fall rain coming down lightly,
reached the east wall of Chien-p'ing just as gates were closing.
Host at the inn met me with greetings, words rambling on and on,
his young wife grinding and cooking in her cheap white robe.
Old boatmen who work the river, some drunk, some sobered up,
merchants from Shu, peddlers of the gorges, clever at closing a deal;
soon lamps went dark, people getting ready for bed,
though outside we could still hear boats tying up, baggage being unloaded from horses.
Mountains steep, rivers treacherous, barbarian tribes close by;
often I saw their mallet-shaped hairdos mingling with city folk.
Now, counting on my fingers, I find it's been forty years!--
sad memories held in my heart, truly from another incarnation.
--Lu Yu, 1205
tr by Burton Watson