Bai Juyi

772–846 / Taiyuan, Shanxi

Hearing The Early Oriole

When the sun rose I was still lying in bed;
An early oriole sang on the roof of my house.
For a moment I thought of the Royal Park at dawn
When the Birds of Spring greeted their Lord from his trees.
I remember the days when I served before the Throne
Pencil in hand, on duty at the Ch'eng-ming;
At the height of spring, when I paused an instant from work,
Morning and evening, was this the voice I heard?
Now in my exile the oriole sings again
In the dreary stillness of Hsün-yang town ...
The bird's note cannot really have changed;
All the difference lies in the listener's heart.
If he could but forget that he lives at the World's end,
The bird would sing as it sang in the Palace of old.
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