Egrets by Tu Mu

Robes of snow, crests of snow, and beaks of azure-jade,
they fish in shadowy streams. Then starting up into

flight, they leave emerald mountains for lit distances.
Pear blossoms, a tree-full, tumble in the evening wind.

translated by David Hinton

afternoon ceremony

music plays
a Turkish ballad
on this not quite
spring day
they test the microphone
set up tables
for food
and drink
a podium for speeches
awards to be given
employees recognized
banners flap
in the breeze
a festive mood
a joyous way
to end the day
as we approach
one more holiday
my only regret
I forgot to wear
a tie

Moonlit Night by Wei Ying-wu

A brilliant moon wanders the spring city,
thick dew luminous among fragrant grasses.

I sit, longing. Empty, this window of gauze
torn and fluttering in crystalline radiance,

crystalline radiance where it ends like this:
torn more and more, a person growing old.

translated by David Hinton

might have been: for Maureen

you & I
will always be
in our early 30s
in LA
you up the road
from me
on Coast Highway
coming to work
at I&L
on Tuesdays & Thursdays
and me
spending too many evenings
drinking bourbon
in the Airlane Bar
across the street
and how life
might have been different
as you once mentioned
in Venice
if we had made
other choices
back then
all the men
at I&L
were a little bit
in love with you
but certainly no more
than me
I often wonder
if I had been sober
more often
had acted sooner
what might have
could have
but we did
what we did
what we chose
as best we could
under the circumstances
but always
always in my mind
you are up the road
from me
overlooking the ocean
and I just never seem
to arrive
on the right day

In Idleness, Facing Rain by Wei Ying-wu

All dark mystery, I embrace it replete,
alone, night thinning into morning.

In this empty library, I face tall trees,
sparse rain soaking through rustling

leaves. Nesting swallows flutter, wet.
Orchid petals blur across stone steps.

It’s quiet. Memories come, and grief
suddenly caught and buffeted in wind.

translated by David Hinton

Autumn Night by Wei Ying-wu


It’s autumn again. Courtyard trees rustle.
Deep in shadow, insects grieve on and on.

Alone, facing the upper library, I doze,
listening to cold rain clatter in the dark,

window-lattice now and then in the wind
trembling, lamp left failing on the wall.

Grief and sorrow, a lifetime remembered
this far away–all abandoned to the night.


Frost and dew spread away–thick, cold.
Star River swings back around, radiant.

Come a thousand niles, north wind rises
past midnight, startling geese. Branches

whisper. Icy leaves fall. And such clarity
in isolate depths of quiet, fulling-stones

grieve. I gaze out through empty space,
tangles of the heart all cold scattered ash.

translated by David Hinton