Caught in Snow
Heavy snow on New Year’s Eve kept me at Weizhou. New Year’s Day dawned clear and I resumed my journey, only to run into snow again.
Snow detained me on New Year’s Eve,
Clear skies speed me on my way on New Year’s Day;
The east wind scatters the fumes of last night’s wine
As I jog along on my lean nag, half dreaming still
In the brilliant morning sunlight,
While a few last snowflakes whirl.
I dismount to drink in the open,
Lacking nothing now but someone to share my wine;
But at dusk clouds gather fast,
The whole air is thick with snow,
Flakes cling like goose feathers to my horse’s mane,
And I marvel to find myself riding a white phoenix.
Three years of drought in the east
Emptied cottage after cottage, whole households fled;
Old peasants cast aside their ploughs and sighed,
Swallowing tears which stung their famished guts.
The snow is late this spring,
But it is not too late to snow spring wheat;
Why complain, then, of the hardships of the journey?
Rather let me sing of your good harvest to come.