Poems of Mi Fu
(Wishing Prime Minister Ji long life)
Warm sun, clear heat, autumn lingers on and
on this day, all are friendly and animated.
May you relax on Heaven's Tower for a thousand years
and may your alchemy be untainted by a speck of dust.
Live to the age of Pengzu.
Your long life shall successfully expand.
The glorious power of immortal ancestry is in your body.
Night comes and the Milky Way is as clear as bathwater.
In the south, among the stars, we see an old man.
When I consider the poetry that got people exiled to the malarial south where they were supposed to die, this poem of Mi Fu's seems the kind of poetry one writes when one is tired of living and thinks that having one's head and limbs ripped off by five horses would be a great way to end it all. Mi Fu, so far as I know, was buried in one piece. So it is a good bet that Minister Ji never received these kind birthday wishes. Pengzu is the Chinese analogue of Methuselah. Heaven's Tower is actually Magic Tower from which the emperor's watched the heavens for portents. The line 寿广成 has overtones of a fat and bloated existence. I especially like the Milky Way being as clear as bathwater, or not very. And south is where, symbolically, the emperors are. I do not think Mi Fu liked this old man.