Farewell by Yü Hsüan-chi

All those tender nights upstairs in the capital, hearts content
together—I never guessed my pure-spirit love would leave.

Now, dozing and waking, I don’t mention drifting clouds gone
who knows where. The lamp burns low. A wild moth flutters.

translated by David Hinton

Untitled Poem by Li Shang-yin

It’s so hard to be together, and so hard to part: a tender
east wind is powerless: the hundred blossoms crumble:

the heart-thread doesn’t end until the silkworm’s dead,
and tears don’t dry until the candle’s burnt into ash:

she grieves, seeing white hair in her morning mirror,
and chanting at night, she feels the chill of moonlight:

exquisite Paradise Mountain—it isn’t so very far away,
and that azure bird can show us the way back anytime.

translated by David Hinton

The Boat-Pullers by Mei Yao-ch’en

Leg broken on the sandy shore, a goose
hobbles along like a man, wings splayed:

what will it do when evening rains come
and the cold wind starts ripping through?

Sodden feathers mud-strained, arched neck
shrinking back—it doesn’t utter a sound.

That’s their life exactly. Guess it’s better
than lugging weapons around some war.

translated by David Hinton

Thoughts as I Lie Alone by Wang An-shih

Alone, a noon dove calling in spring
shade, I lie in a valley of forest quiet.

Scraps of cloud pass, scattering rain,
and I listen, late in life, to its clatter.

Eyes full of red and green confusion,
our sad times unraveling my legacy,

there’s no word near these thoughts
still as Bell Mountain in its slumber.

translated by David Hinton