18 October 2015

The sun sets on the back of a wild goose


The willow shoots long, the spring rain lightning
beyond the flowers, the water-hourglass
drips, distantly,
flushing the wild geese at the frontier
and the birds on the city wall,
but not the golden partridge painted on the screen.

The thin mist of the incense comes
through the embroidered curtain.
Overlooking the pond, her room is wrapped in solitude.
Against a red candle,
behind the brocade valence hung low,
her dream is long, unknown to him.
            Wen Tingyun (812-870)

Broken Lotus Root

Young, we threw away the pastoral years.
Now like a broken lotus root it is
impossible to join the present and the past. Then,
we waited for each other,
standing by the vermilion-railed bridge.
Today, I search for the traces, in vain,
along the deserted path buried under yellow leaves.

Through the mist all the peaks
seem to be highlighting the blue.
Setting on the back of a wild goose,
the sun turns into a dark red.

You left, like a cloud drifting away,
across the river. The memory of
our passion is like a willow catkin
stuck to the ground, after the rain.
            Zhou Bangyan (1057-1121)

Husband-Watching Rock

Where she stood looking out for her husband,
the water of the river flowed on
to the horizon. Now
she's turned into a rock, which
continues to look out
without ever turning back, day in,
day out, against the wind and rain
on the hill . . .

When he comes back,
the rock should speak out.

            Wang Jian (766-830?)

From Treasury of Chinese Love Poems, trans. & ed. Qiu Xiaolong.

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