Friday, December 4, 2009

A portrait

子年劉郎寫余老貌求贊

鬢少梳欲無,髭短鑷更少。
搔鬢祗捻髭,覓句何日了。

Master Liu Painted a Portrait of Me in My Old Age and Asked Me to
Write a Poem About the Picture

Few hairs, made fewer by the comb;
short moustache, made shorter by the tweezers—
scratching my hair, and twisting my moustache,
when will I ever stop looking for poems?

Translated by Jonathan Chaves, in Wu-Chi Liu, Irving Yucheng Lo eds., Sunflower Splendor: Three Thousand Years of Chinese Poetry, Indiana University Press, 1990 pp. 374-375.

I reckon that 覓句 means to look for the right verse rather than just poems.

Chinese source here.