from To Dispel the Cold: Two Poems on Spring: I: Small Pavilion by Hung Liang-chi

Where is the first sign of spring?
Spring comes earliest to a small pavilion:
Upon the shadow of a bamboo blind in the moonlight,
In the tender notes from a flute in the breeze,
In the greening of a branch breaking out at the tip,
In the drippings of a candle of red passion.
In the whispered words overheard past midnight,
In the scented breath wafted beyond the wall.

translated by Irving Lo

Mad Words by Yüan Mei

To learn to be without desire, you must desire that;
Better to do as you please: sing idleness:
Floating clouds and water running—where’s their source?
In all the vastness of the sea and sky, you’ll never find it.

translated by J.P. Seaton

from On Poetry: III by Chao Yi

The best of poetry comes from the destitute, but my pocket is not yet empty;
I gather, it’s all because I haven’t perfected my skill as a poet.
Having fish to eat or bear’s paw? I admit, I’m greedy for both;
I yearn for skill in poetry, yet how I dread being poor!

translated by Irving Lo

Spring Day III by Yuan Mei

A hermit’s gate is made of the stuff of brooms,
but sweep as it may, the clouds won’t stay away.
So up through the clouds, for sun I came,
with wine, to this high tower.

At evening, the sun declined
to come on down the mountain with me.
“Tomorrow,” I ask,
“you coming, or not?”

translated by J.P. Seaton

Bent Willows by Li Chien

The river’s waves reflect a bent willow,
Unbothered by the darkening sky at dusk.
If this tree can be said to hold a grievance,
Who hasn’t felt the pangs of lost love?
I’m listless and the road home for a traveler is far;
And autumn winds rise after our leave-taking.
One day sporting a young girl’s pearl coiffure,
This morning I dread to look into the mirror bright.

translated by Hsin-sheng C. Kao

Chatting about the Past with the Elder (Ching-jen) by Hung Liang-chi

All ambitions of youth yield place to calamities;
Parted as in a dream–reunited, we can’t trust our eyes.
Shall we match our strength in climbing one more mountain?
Winning fame in literature, there’s you alone.
In a sea of dust, we still can tarry for a little while;
Or sit in a granary of books, all day, without food.
This morning I took myself to Yen Pavilion for a look,
Trying to find the leanest horse to ride down the capital street.

translated by Irving Lo

from Stones and Trees by Shih-shu

how pitiful, the feelings of the world
still, the hills are not afraid
with forests of trees to clothe them
the hunting ground of poems and verse

my heart is free as the white clouds
body light as a crimson leaf
apes and birds pull me forward
lusty as ever, we rise up–cross over

translated by James H. Sanford