“Fallen faded petals” by Li Ch’ing-chao

Fallen faded petals the color of my rouge. . .
One year, another spring,
willow catkins lightly fly, bamboo shoots become bamboo
and alone and sad I face the garden’s new-sent green.
But though he’s not done roaming, that time must be near.
In a clear dream of last year come from a thousand miles
cloudy city, winding streams, ice on the ponds
for a while I gazed on my friend.

translated by James Cryer

Tune: “Pure Serene Music” by Li Ch’ing-chao

Year after year in the snow
we’d pick plum blossoms while we drank,
Pulling at the petals to no good purpose,
drenching our clothes with pure white tears.

This year I’m at the end of the world,
strand by strand my hair turns grey.
Judging by the force of the evening wind
plum blossoms will be hard to come by.

translated by Eugene Eoyang

Thoughts from the Women’s Quarters by Li Ch’ing-chao

On her face, hibiscus lovely, an incipient smile.
Poised in flight, the jeweled duck’s beak. Incense wreathed
eyes alight, beneath the quilt she suspects
his frivolity hides a more expressive depth;
folds his elegant letter,
places it next her secret heart.
When the moon has gone,
the flowers in shadow,
I will come again.

translated by James Cryer