And of even this bright flame of love,   Li Shangyin TO ONE UNNAMED II A misty rain comes blowing with a wind from the east, And wheels faintly thunder beyond Hibiscus Pool. …Round the golden-toad lock, incense is creeping; The jade tiger tells, on its cord, of water being drawn A great lady once, from behind a screen, favoured a poor youth; A fairy queen brought a bridal mat once for the ease of a prince and then vanished. …Must human hearts blossom in spring, like all other flowers? And of even this bright flame of love, shall there be only ashes? Li ShangyinRead More →

Has come and gone before I knew. Bai Juyi TO MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS ADRIFT IN TROUBLED TIMES THIS POEM OF THE MOON Since the disorders in Henan and the famine in Guannei, my brothers and sisters have been scattered. Looking at the moon, I express my thoughts in this poem, which I send to my eldest brother at Fuliang, my seventh brother at Yuqian, My fifteen brother at Wujiang and my younger brothers and sisters at Fuli and Xiagui. My heritage lost through disorder and famine, My brothers and sisters flung eastward and westward, My fields and gardens wrecked by the war, My ownRead More →

I sit here alone, mourning for us both. Liu Zongyuan FROM THE CITY-TOWER OF LIUZHOU TO MY FOUR FELLOW-OFFICIALS AT ZHANG, DING, FENG, AND LIAN DISTRICTS At this lofty tower where the town ends, wilderness begins; And our longing has as far to go as the ocean or the sky…. Hibiscus-flowers by the moat heave in a sudden wind, And vines along the wall are whipped with slanting rain. Nothing to see for three hundred miles but a blur of woods and mountain — And the river’s nine loops, twisting in our bowels…. This is where they have sent us, this land of tattooed peopleRead More →

Spring only brings me grief and fatigue   Wei Yingwu TO MY FRIENDS LI DAN AND YUANXI We met last among flowers, among flowers we parted, And here, a year later, there are flowers again; But, with ways of the world too strange to foretell, Spring only brings me grief and fatigue. I am sick, and I think of my home in the country- Ashamed to take pay while so many are idle. …In my western tower, because of your promise, I have watched the full moons come and go. Han Hong INSCRIBED IN THE TEMPLE OF THE WANDERING GENIE I face, high over thisRead More →

I challenge what may come   Cui Hao PASSING THROUGH HUAYIN Lords of the capital, sharp, unearthly, The Great Flower’s three points pierce through heaven. Clouds are parting above the Temple of the Warring Emperor, Rain dries on the mountain, on the Giant’s Palm. Ranges and rivers are the strength of this western gate, Whence roads and trails lead downward into China. …O pilgrim of fame, O seeker of profit, Why not remain here and lengthen your days? Zu Yong LOOKING TOWARD AN INNER GATE OF THE GREAT WALL My heart sank when I headed north from Yan Country To the camps of China echoingRead More →

I face my mirror with a sigh   Cui Tu A SOLITARY WILDGOOSE Line after line has flown back over the border. Where are you headed all by yourself? In the evening rain you call to them — And slowly you alight on an icy pond. The low wet clouds move faster than you Along the wall toward the cold moon. …If they caught you in a net or with a shot, Would it be worse than flying alone? Du Xunhe A SIGH IN THE SPRING PALACE Knowing beauty my misfortune, I face my mirror with a sigh. To please a fastidious emperor, How shallRead More →

After the shower at Bashang   Wen Tingyun TO A FRIEND BOUND EAST The old fort brims with yellow leaves…. You insist upon forsaking this place where you have lived. A high wind blows at Hanyang Ferry And sunrise lights the summit of Yingmen…. Who will be left for me along the upper Yangzi After your solitary skiff has entered the end of the sky? I ask you over and over when we shall meet again, While we soften with winecups this ache of farewell. Ma Dai AN AUTUMN COTTAGE AT BASHANG After the shower at Bashang, I see an evening line of wildgeese, TheRead More →

To live as pure a life as yours   Li Shangyin A CICADA Pure of heart and therefore hungry, All night long you have sung in vain — Oh, this final broken indrawn breath Among the green indifferent trees! Yes, I have gone like a piece of driftwood, I have let my garden fill with weeds…. I bless you for your true advice To live as pure a life as yours. Li Shangyin WIND AND RAIN I ponder on the poem of The Precious Dagger. My road has wound through many years. …Now yellow leaves are shaken with a gale; Yet piping and fiddling keepRead More →

Boundless grasses over the plain   Zhang Ji THINKING OF A FRIEND LOST IN THE TIBETAN WAR Last year you went with your troops to Tibet; And when your men had vanished beyond the citywall, News was cut off between the two worlds As between the living and the dead. No one has come upon a faithful horse guarding A crumpled tent or torn flag, or any trace of you. If only I knew, I might serve you in the temple, Instead of these tears toward the far sky. Bai Juyi GRASSES Boundless grasses over the plain Come and go with every season; Wildfire neverRead More →

I see a sail in the far sky   Meng Haoran MEMORIES IN EARLY WINTER South go the wildgesse, for leaves are now falling, And the water is cold with a wind from the north. I remember my home; but the Xiang River’s curves Are walled by the clouds of this southern country. I go forward. I weep till my tears are spent. I see a sail in the far sky. Where is the ferry? Will somebody tell me? It’s growing rough. It’s growing dark. Liu Changqing CLIMBING IN AUTUMN FOR A VIEW FROM THE TEMPLE ON THE TERRACE OF GENERAL WU So autumn breaksRead More →