Chinese Poetry, The Masters

Su Tung-P’o’s Rapt in Wine Against the Mountain Rains

Su Tung-P’o was a poet of the Song era who is also known as Su Shi, and who published under the name Dongpo Jushi. A prolific figure of his time, Su Tung-P’o was a statesman who was accomplished not only in literary terms, but also as a painter, calligrapher and cook. Influenced by his study of Buddhism and Confucianism, his poems often got him in hot water with the ruling elite. This poem, like many poems of the Song era, is lyrical and written to be sung out loud to the tune stated in the title.


Song to the tune nan ho tzu

rapt in wine against the mountain rains
dressed I dozed in evening brightness
and woke to hear the watch drum striking dawn
in dreams I was a butterfly
my joyful body light

I grow old, my talents are used up
but still I plot toward the return
to find a field and take a cottage
where I can laugh at heroes
and pick my way among the muddy puddles
on a lake side path


Su Tung-P’o (1037-1101)
From: A Drifting Boat