Christmas in Izmir

I passed
on going to
a movie
in 3D
with strangers
set the table
with cauliflower
white wine
extra treats
for the cat
loaded music
on the DVD player
Sibelius Aaron Copland
Joshua Bell Sarah Chang
and Miles
Sketches of Spain
the ghosts
of Christmases
who joined me
and peace
in my heart
in Izmir
this Christmas

The Temple of Su Wu by Wen T’ing-yun

Though our envoy, Su Wu, is gone, body and soul,
This temple survives, these trees endure. . .
Wildgeese through the clouds are still calling to the moon there
And hill-sheep unshepherded graze along the border.
. . .Returning, he found his country changed
Since with youthful cap and sword he had left it.
His bitter adventures had won him no title. . .
Autumn-waves endlessly sob in the river.

translated by Witter Bynner & Kiang Kang-hu

North Among Green Vines by Li Shang-yin

Where the sun has entered the western hills,
I look for a monk in his little straw hut;
But only the fallen leaves are at home,
And I turn through chilling levels of cloud.
I hear a stone gong in the dusk,
I lean full-weight on my slender staff. . .
How within this world, within this grain of dust,
Can there be any room for the passions of men?

translated by Witter Bynner & Kiang Kang-hu

To A Friend Bound East by Wen T’ing-yun

The old fort brims with yellow leaves. . .
You insist upon forsaking this place where you have lived.
A high wind blows at Han-yang Ferry
And sunrise lights the summit of Ying-men. . .
Who will be left for me along the upper Yang-tsze
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.

translated by Witter Bynner & Kiang Kang-hu

On Meeting My Friend Feng Chu in the Capital by Wei Ying-wu

Out of the east you visit me,
With the rain of Pa-ling still on your clothes,
I ask what you have come here for;
You say: “To buy an axe for cutting wood in the mountains.”
. . .Hidden deep in a haze of blossom,
Swallow fledglings chirp at ease
As they did when we parted, a year ago. . . .
How grey our temples have grown since then!

translated by Witter Bynner & Kiang Kang-hu

Changing on Old Friends in a Village Inn by Tai Shu-lun

While the autumn moon is pouring full
On a thousand night-levels among towns and villages,
There meet by chance, south of the river,
Dreaming doubters of a dream. . .
In the trees a wind has startled the birds,
And insects cower from cold in the grass;
But wayfarers at least have wine
And nothing to fear–till the morning bell.

translated by Witter Bynner & Kiang Kang-hu