Remembering by Yuan Mei

The years, their months
turn, grave and slow, their
fall and spring, again.

Mountain flowers, mountain leaves and
each time’s new.

Sometimes I sit alone
and smile upon the child I was,

in memory now distant
and a friend.

translated by J.P. Seaton

from Not Bowing to Old Age by Kuan Han-ch’ing

You can knock out my teeth and break my jaw.
You can cripple my legs and rip off my arms:
let heaven lay all these curses on me,
and I still won’t stop.
Except old Yama, the king of Hell
comes to call on me himself (and brings his fiends to fetch me),
when my soul turns to dirt,
and my animal shell falls straight into Hell,
then, and only then, I’ll quit this flowered path
I ramble on.

translated by J.P. Seaton

The Sharks by Denise Levertov

Well, then, the last day the sharks appeared.
Dark fins appear, innocent
as if in fair warning. The sea becomes
sinister, are they everywhere?
I tell you, they break six feet of water.
Isn’t it the same sea, and won’t we
play in it any more?
I liked it clear and not
too calm, enough waves
to fly in on. For the first time
I dared to swim out of my depth.
It was sundown when they came, the time
when a sheen of copper stills the sea,
not dark enough for moonlight, clear enough
to see them easily. Dark
the sharp lift of the fins.

At One Glance by Mihri Hatun

At one glance
I loved you
With a thousand hearts

They can hold against me
No sin except my love for you
Come to me
Don’t go away

Let the zealots think
Loving is sinful
Never mind
Let me burn in the hellfire
Of that sin

translated by Talat S. Halman

My Baby Has No Name Yet by Kim Nam-jo

My baby has no name yet;
like a new-born chick or a puppy,
my baby is not named yet.

What numberless texts I examined
at dawn and night and evening over again!
But not one character did I find
which is as lovely as the child.

Starry field of the sky,
or heap of pearls in the depth.
Where can the name be found, how can I?

My baby has no name yet;
like an unnamed bluebird or white flowers
from the farthest land for the first,
I have no name for this baby of ours.

translated by Ko Won