Winter Dawn

The men and beasts of the zodiac
Have marched over us once more.
Green wine bottles and red lobster shells,
Both emptied, litter the table.
“Should auld acquaintance be forgot?” Each
Sits listening to his own thoughts,
And the sound of cars starting outside.
The birds in the eaves are restless,
Because of the noise and light. Soon now
In the winter dawn I will face
My fortieth year. Borne headlong
Towards the long shadows of sunset
By the headstrong, stubborn moments,
Life whirls past like drunken wildfire.

— Tu Fu
Translated from the Chinese by Kenneth Rexroth

4 Comments on “Winter Dawn”

  1. Randy Whitwell

    In the book 100 poems of the Chinese “Winter Dawn” has a couple of lines that states “the sound of cars starting outside” and “let auld acquaintance be forgot” I know that I must be missing something or naive but Tu Fu lived around 726 CE. Can you explain this modern terminology for me? Thanks so much. Randy Whitwell

    • Matthew Lambert

      Rex Roth admitted that he allowed his translations to be “very free” and very influenced by his feelings at the time of translation. Both of these modern references are the result.


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