Dreams by Ai Qing

Waking hours
Are crammed with fantasy
Then dreams
Drop in to visit while you sleep

Perhaps an early childhood sweetheart
Or an old buddy arriving from far away

Grief writhes on an inner-spring mattress
Ecstatic rendezvous occur on a heap of straw

While poverty-stricken you receive gifts
When you’re affluent you get robbed

It could be a false alarm
Or the inkling that more is amiss.

treanslated by Fang Dai, Dennis Ding, & Edward Morin

When We Finally Turn Fifty by Wang Xiaolong

We’ll be just as we are now
Kissing as we casually fix a meal
Getting by whether or not the laundry’s been done
No talking allowed during reading time
No money in the bank
Having a spat once every three days on average
Making our walk home from the movies
Deliberately long and sad
Then pretending we haven’t known each other for three whole days
So we can be especially intimate on Sundays
The weather’s getting strangely pleasant
During the night we dream with our heads stuck together
And see two small dogs
Running across the snow

When we finally turn fifty

translated by Fang Dai, Dennis Ding, & Edward Morin

Longing by Cai Qijiao

My longing for you brims with feelings of spring–
A clear flowing stream
Ripples in the foreground,
The green landscape beyond
Stretches back into the distance,
Under the quiet shadow of a cloud
Your smile is like the passage of fluttering birds.

My longing for you never rests–
As the rising moon
Skims over layer after layer of branches
You walk out from the depths of my heart
And through layer upon layer of memories
You cast radiant light on everything around me.

My longing for you comes back to reality–
On the mountain a high tower
Quiet under a hazy drizzle,
Waiting thus forever for love,
Without so much as a word
Without even hinting my intentions.

translated by Fang Dai, Dennis Ding, & Edward Morin

Poetry by Cai Qijiao

It is the tide, an everlasting cry,
Or a star, the never-ending silence.
Whether shouted or voiceless,
Neither is for human beings to choose.

How easy to not write poetry for truth.
Lies come along to cover emptiness.
The shining flower petals of glory
Are not the same thing as the truth.

To search the heart is poetry’s lifeblood.
Perhaps it was found but it’s been lost again.
The blue smoke and grey ash–
Both are brothers of that fire.

translated by Fang Dai, Dennis Ding, & Edward Morin