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Wei Yingwu is one of the more overlooked of Tang dynasty poets. Early on in life, he served in the role of imperial guardsman; but he left to pursue his education. The story goes that he had little interest in the cut and thrust of the literary world. He was a famously stern individual, but his poems are often wonderful in their simplicity and clarity of style.

This poem was written for a hermit friend. The last line — “Where could I find / the traces of your wandering?” — seems fitting in the present context.

Poem Sent to the Hermit of the Quanjiao Mountains

This morning,

the government office is cold

and I suddenly I think of you,

a hermit in the mountains,

at the foot of the stream

bundling thorns for fuel,

coming home

to boil white stones for food;

and I wish I could take

a cupful of wine,

cross distances to comfort you,

in the evening wind and rain.

But the leaves are falling—

they cover the bald mountainsides.

Where could I find

the traces of your wandering?