Below are three of Rexroth's translations of poems by Tu Fu, each being followed by my response. The Tu Fu/ Rexroth pieces will be in boldface.
BANQUET AT THE TSO FAMILY MANOR
The windy forest is checkered
By the light of the setting,
Waning moon. I tune the lute,
Its strings are moist with dew.
The brook flows in the darkness
Below the flower path. The thatched
Roof is crowned with constellations.
As we write the candles burn short.
Our wits grow sharp as swords while
The wine goes round. When the poem
Contest is ended, someone
Sings a song of the South. And
I think of my little boat,
And long to be on my way.
wine and poetry finished,
he wishes to go -
Tu Fu in his little boat
into the starry night.
It is Spring in the mountains.
I come alone seeking you.
The sound of chopping wood echoes
Between the silent peaks.
The streams are still icy.
There is snow on the trail.
At sunset I reach your grove
In the stony mountain pass.
You want nothing, although at night
You can see the aura of gold
And silver ore all around you.
You have learned to be gentle
As the mountain deer you have tamed.
The way back forgotten, hidden
Away, I become like you,
An empty boat, floating, adrift.
"You have learned to be gentle" -
*Granted, this one seems more a response to an annotation made by a previous reader (used book), rather than the poem itself, but the experience of poem and annotation were one and the same for me.
Tumult, weeping, many new ghosts.
Heartbroken, aging, alone, I sing
To myself. Ragged mist settles
In the spreading dusk. Snow skurries
In the coiling wind. The wineglass
Is spilled. The bottle is empty.
The fire has gone out in the stove.
Everywhere men speak in whispers.
I brood on the uselessness of letters.
"The wineglass is spilled. . ."
So too useless letters.
The poet's vain hand
smears pure, white paper.