another poem about waiting from the Book of Songs: When the Gourd Has Dried Leaves

When the gourd has dried leaves,
you can wade the deep river.
Keep your clothes on if the water’s deep;
hitch up your dress when it’s shallow.

The river is rising,
pheasants are chirping.
The water is just half a wheel deep,
and the hen is singing to the cock.

Wild geese are trilling,
the rising sun starts dawn.
If you want to marry me,
come before the river is frozen.

The ferryman is gesturing,
other people are going, but not me,
other people are going, but not me.
I’m waiting for you.

translated by Tony Barnstone & Chou Ping

from Book of Songs: White Moonrise

The white rising moon
is your bright beauty
binding me in spells
till my heart’s devoured.

The light moon soars
resplendent like my lady,
binding me in light chains
till my heart’s devoured.

Moon in white glory,
you are the beautiful one
who delicately wounds me
till my heart’s devoured.

translated by Tony Barnstone & Willis Barnstone

My Love’s Gone Off To War from the Book of Songs

My love’s gone off to war,
who knows how long gone
or where O where.
Chickens settle unto nests,
an evening sun sinks away,
oxen and sheep wander in–
but my love’s gone off to war
and nothing can stop these thoughts of him.

My love’s gone off to war,
not for days or even months,
and who survives such things?
Chickens settle onto perches,
an evening sun sinks away,
oxen and sheep wander home–
but my love’s gone off to war
if hunger and thirst spared him that long.

translated by David Hinton