Poems of Bai Juyi
Full Moon Feelings
自河南经乱关内阻饥 兄弟离散各在一处 因望月有感聊书所怀 寄上浮梁大兄 於潜七兄乌江十五兄 兼示符离及下邽弟妹
I am wandering the broken roads of Henan. Everyone is staving off famine. We friends are all separated, each on his own. Full moon so moving, all I could think of was poetry. So I'm sending you this from Fuliang. Like the Seven Qian, or the Crow River Fifteen, I send it also to our brothers Fu and Li and Gui.
Hard times, desolate year, farmlands all empty.
Brothers all scattered from west to east.
On sparse fields, weapons of war lay abandoned.
Families wander the roads as refugees.
I am lonely as a solitary migrant goose.
My words blow about like winter's brittle grass.
Seeing this bright moon makes me want to cry.
A night of nostalgia for when last we five were one.
It is 799 and Bai Juyi is twenty-seven. He has taken the Metropolitan Examination and hardly has a job. No official job yet. It is winter and if he's wandering it is because he is visiting family. Probably his mother or some other relative with even less means and food than Bai has. He is young and idealistic about his literary friends, considering them already a group of someday-to-be-acknowledged poets. Some people outgrow these kinds of dreams and generosities. Bai Juyi never does.