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Ballad of the Ancient Cypress

by
Kong ming temple before be old cypress
Branch like green bronze root like stone
Frost bark slippery rain 40 spans
Black colour meet sky 2000 feet
Emperor and minister already with time end meet
Tree tree still be man devotion
Cloud come air meet Wu gorge long
Moon out cold with snow mountain white
Remember old road wind brocade pavilion east
Former master war lord together hidden temple
Towering branch trunk open country ancient
Secluded red black door window empty
Spread wide coil entrenched although get earth
Dark far lofty many violent wind
Give support naturally divine strength
Upright reason creator skill
Big hall if upset want rafter beam
10,000 oxen turn head mountain weight
Not reveal hidden meaning world already amazed
Without evade cut down who can send
Bitter heart how avoid contain mole crickets ants
Fragrant leaves all through reside phoenix
Aim scholar secluded person not resent sigh
Always timber big hard to use


Before Kongming's shrine stands an ancient cypress,
Its branches are like green bronze, its roots just like stone.
The frosted bark, slippery with rain, is forty spans around,
Its blackness blends into the sky two thousand feet above.
Master and servant have each already reached their time's end,
The tree, however, still remains, receiving men's devotion.
Clouds come and bring the air of Wuxia gorge's vastness,
The moon comes out, along with the cold of snowy mountain whiteness.

I think back to the winding road, east of Brocade Pavilion,
Where the military master and his lord of old share a hidden temple.
Towering that trunk, those branches, on the ancient plain,
Hidden paintings, red and black, doors and windows empty.
Spreading wide, coiling down, though it holds the earth,
In the dim and distant heights are many violent winds.
That which gives it its support must be heaven's strength,
The reason for its uprightness, the creator's skill.

If a great hall should teeter, wanting rafters and beams,
Ten thousand oxen would turn their heads towards its mountain's weight.
Its potential unrevealed, the world's already amazed,
Nothing would stop it being felled, but what man could handle it?
Its bitter heart cannot avoid the entry of the ants,
Its fragrant leaves have always given shelter to the phoenix.
Ambitious scholars, reclusive hermits- neither needs to sigh;
Always it's the greatest timber that's hardest to put to use.

Poem by Du Fu
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