on gardens

there are words
some things are best
left alone
to wither
on their own accord
where blossoms
are impossible
to cultivate

To Tzu-an by Yü Hsüan-chi

A thousand goblets at the farewell feast
can’t dilute my sorrow,
my heart at separation is twisted
in a hundred unyielding knots.
Tender orchids wilt and wither,
return to the garden of spring;
willow trees, here and there,
moor travelers’ boats.
In meeting and parting I lament
the unsettled clouds;
love and affection should learn from the river
in flowing on and on.
I know we won’t meet again
in the season of blossoms,
and I won’t sit by quietly
drunk in my chamber.

translated by Jan W. Walls

A Mountain Walk by Tu Mu

Climbing far into the cold mountains, the rocky path steepens
and houses grow rare. Up here where white clouds are born,

I stop to sit for a while, savoring maple forests in late light,
frost-glazed leaves lit reds deeper than any spring blossoms.

translated by David Hinton

Autumn Dream by Tu Mu

Frosty skies open empty depths of wind.
Moonlight floods fulling-stones clarities.

As the dream ends, I am dying at night:
I am beside a beautiful woman, thoughts

deepening–a leaf trees shed in the dark,
a lone goose leaving borderlands behind.

Then I’m in travel clothes, setting out,
heart and mind all distances beyond sky.

translated by David Hinton


what’s in a name
one asks
then it is apparent
they are tags
to our lives
her name is
her spirit captivates
a streak of fire
in her soul
there’s magic
in her smile
a spell
is being cast
so trend softly
Circe turned men
into swine
to keep a wanderer
there are dangers
on this journey
called life
one-eyed giants
violent storms
sirens’ songs
one can ride out
a storm
plug one’s ears
to a siren’s songs
fool one-eyed giants
with a club
all it takes
is your wits
to hold onto
your life
but this enchantress
is more dangerous
she will snatch
something more valuable
which your wits
cannot protect
your heart