The Birds Have Vanished Into the Sky
by Li Po
The birds have vanished into the sky,
and now the last cloud drains away.
We sit together, the mountain and me,
until only the mountain remains.
A cable car ride up Austria’s Zwolferhorn led to this view of the Alps, a pretty sweet spot to leave a poem about mountains and time and mortality.
Li Po (his name is also translated as Li Bai and Li Bo) was born in present-day Kryrzstan sometime around 701 and raised in present-day Chengdu. He led a full life, to say the least. In his teens he killed a few men (for reasons of chivalry, according to Wikipedia). In his twenties he wandered and gave away most of his money. He served at court, was expelled from court, led a revolt, was charged with treason, was pardoned, wandered again, and was very often drunk. He married four times. He died in 762, most likely of cirrhosis, although legend has it that he died trying to embrace the moon’s reflection in the water. Because he was sitting drunk in a canoe.