Du Fu: Withered Palm Fronds

Withered Palm Fronds

枯 棕
蜀 门 多 棕 榈
高 者 十 八 九。
其 皮 割 剥 甚
虽 众 亦 易 朽。
徒 布 如 云 叶
青 黄 岁 寒 后。
交 横 集 斧 斤
凋 丧 先 蒲 柳。
伤 时 苦 军 乏
一 物 官 尽 取。
嗟 尔 江 汉 人
生 成 复 何 有?
有 同 枯 棕 木
使 我 沉 叹 久。
死 者 即 已 休
生 者 何 自 守?
啾 啾 黄 雀 啅
侧 见 寒 蓬 走。
念 尔 形 影 干
摧 残 没 藜 莠。


Ku Zong

Shu men duo zong lu
Gao zhe shi ba jiu
Qi pi ge bao shen
Sui zhong yi yi xiu

Tu bu ru yun ye
Qing huang sui han hou.
Jiao heng ji fu jin
Diao sang xian pu liu

Shang shi ku jun fa
Yi wu guan jin qu
Jie er jiang han ren
Sheng cheng fu he you?

You tong ku zong mu
Shi wo chen tan jiu
Si zhe ji yi xiu
Sheng zhe he zi shou?

Jiu jiu huang qiao zhuo
Ce jian han peng zou.
Nian er xing ying gan
Cui can mei li you.


Withered Palm Fronds

Many palm trees outside Sichuan city gates
Most of them are very tall.
Their fronds cut many times
Although many have become rotten and decayed.

Each layer of cut frond stubs like clouds of leaves
After the coldest part of the year, some are yellow, most green.
Up their trunks are collections of cross-hatches made from hatchets.

Too quickly they age, lose their lives before the willow trees and cattails
They suffered wounds when our soldiers needed them for shelter and bedding.
Their fronds are the only reason our government values them
Lament the Han River people, what can they naturally produce?

These people are dried out and withered like the palm trees
For a long time this makes me sick with a profound realization.
Dead things have already gone beyond our help
Living things, how can they naturally defend themselves?

Yellow sparrows peck and sing
Cold wind blows away the palm tree seeds.
Thinking of dry bodies and shadows
They can be destroyed and melt into the lamb quarters and
green bristle grasses.



Han River people:  The longest tributary to the Changjiang in Hubei Province.

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