A brocade curtain parts: there’s
the legendary beauty, Madam Wei!
embroided quilts, meantime,
still cloak the boatman’s shoulders. . .
or think of the slow dance, Hanging Hands,
and carved jade dangling from a sash
and the fast dance, Bending Waist,
with a fluttering saffron skirt!
colors flaring from candles
a rich man never thinks to trim
and fragrance like that of the holy man
who needed no incense or perfume. . .
I dreamed I was that poor poet
who got hold of a genius’s brush:
wanting to create such leaves, such blooms,
that I could send to you
my lady of dawn clouds,
translated by David Young