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Han Yu: Reply to Zhang the Eleventh

Reply to Zhang the Eleventh

答 张 十 一
山 净 江 空 水 见 沙
哀 猿 啼 处 两 三 家。
筼 筜 竞 长 纤 纤 笋
踯 躅 闲 开 艳 艳 花。
未 报 恩 波 知 死 所
莫 令 焱 瘴 送 生 涯。
吟 君 诗 罢 看 双 鬓
斗 觉 霜 毛 一 半 加。
Da Zhang Shi Yi

Shan jing jiang kong shui jian sha
Ai yuan ti chu liang san jia.
Yun dang jing chang xian xian sun
Zhi zhu xian kai yan yan hua.

Wei bao en bo zhi si suo
Mo ling yan zhang song sheng ya.
Yin jun shi ba kan shuang bin
Dou jue shuang mao yi ban jia.


Reply to Zhang the Eleventh

Mountains clean and pure, river water transparent amid sandy riverbanks
Sorrowful apes wail, only two or three households nearby.
Tall waterside bamboo competes with long and fine bamboo shoots
Leisurely walk back and forth, very bright and fresh blossoms opening.

Yet to get an imperial reply, we do not know the place of our death
Do not allow the heat and miasma send you off from this shore of life.
See fewer hairs upon both my temples, while chanting your poems
Suddenly realize over half of my head with coarse and frosty hair.



Zhang Shu: Close friend of Han Yu. After having sent a critical letter to the emperor, they were both sent into exile. Han Yu went to Yangshan, while Zhang Shu wound up in Ling Wuxian, in the province of Hunan.

This shore of life: Buddhist metaphor of taking the ferryboat from the shore of our birth, across the river to the shore of our enlightenment.

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