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The way goes on forever


© 2007
BASID #761

Beth Ames Swartz
The way goes on forever
acrylic and paste on canvas
36" x 48" (0.91m x 1.22m)
2007

Words in blue visible in painted frame

(Du Fu, also Romanized as Tu Fu, 712 - 770 A.C.E, Chinese)


Departing from Ch'in-chou

As old age weakens me, I grow lazy and foolish.
I make no plans for the future.
Hungry, I remember a land of plenty:
cold, I recall the warmth of the south.
In early November, Han-yuan
is cool and crisp like autumn,
but leaves have not turned yellow and fallen,
and the landscape is still lovely.
Chestnut Station promises good fortune,
and the plains are thick with farms
growing delectable yams
and wild honey and forests of bamboo shoots.
There are shimmering ponds for fishing.
Although my wanderings have grieved me,
this journey restores my country spirit.
But so many people pass through Ch'in-chou.

I fear I’ll become entangled—
appalling social functions
and touring won’t assuage my worries.
Ominous boulders shadow these ravines,
and these sandy farms grow smaller.
How can I possibly linger
where nothing brings and old man peace?
The lonely lookout was swallowed by the dark.
Ravens cry from the city walls.
We depart at night in our carts, our horses
pausing to drink at ponds.
The moon and stars rise clear
above the mist and clouds,
reaching the endless void of space.
The way goes on forever.


1. Hamill, Sam. Crossing the Yellow River: 300 Poems from the Chinese. Rochester, NY: BOA Editions, 2000, 133-134.