another poem about waiting from the Book of Songs: When the Gourd Has Dried Leaves

When the gourd has dried leaves,
you can wade the deep river.
Keep your clothes on if the water’s deep;
hitch up your dress when it’s shallow.

The river is rising,
pheasants are chirping.
The water is just half a wheel deep,
and the hen is singing to the cock.

Wild geese are trilling,
the rising sun starts dawn.
If you want to marry me,
come before the river is frozen.

The ferryman is gesturing,
other people are going, but not me,
other people are going, but not me.
I’m waiting for you.

translated by Tony Barnstone & Chou Ping

8 thoughts on “another poem about waiting from the Book of Songs: When the Gourd Has Dried Leaves

  1. I had no idea of the symbolism of the ferryman and crossing over til I recently read The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro. It’s a stunning symbol. Thanks for sharing this poem.

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