Fold my hands, keep them clean

From selections of Po P’u (aka Bai Renfu, Bai Pu) in Jerome Seaton’s anthology The Wine of Endless Life: Taoist Drinking Songs

I’ve known glory, I’ve known shame
I keep my mouth shut tight
who’s right, who’s wrong
I nod my head in silence
as I ponder poems and histories
fold my hands, keep them clean
I’m poor as can be
yet elegant, and free;
the wind flowing


if wine doesn’t get me then poetry must
spirit wars with spirits, poetry with wine
all year long I idle with the breeze and moon
a useless man
but poems and wine, the music
of the truth within

An aside – I find the variability of transliteration the most baffling part of Chinese names.  I’ll read an anthology selection or a reference that looks interesting and spend ten minutes getting from the name I find to another variation whose better(?) claim to being the standard I don’t understand.  Today Po P’u led to Bai Renfu.  And best of luck moving from there to finding a translation under any of the normal 3-5 possibilities.


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