To the Tune: In the Hills by Hsueh Chao-yun

At Ch’ang-men, the grass is green,
jade stairs shimmering under dew.

Mist softens the moonlight.
East winds drown a sorrowful flute.

The water clock marks time.
Outside, orioles greet the dawn.

I wake in the night
Grief-stricken, in tears,

exhausted, just exhausted.
My grip crushes my robe.

Once again, my mind settles over you
like dust settles over our scrolls.

translated  by Sam Hamill

another untitled poem by Li Shang-yin

For ever hard to meet, and as hard to part.
Each flower spoils in the failing East wind.
Spring’s silkworms wind till death their heart’s threads:
The wick of the candle turns to ash before its tears dry.
Morning’s mirror’s only care, a change at her cloudy temples:
Saying over a poem in the night, does she sense the chill in the moonbeams?
Not far, from here to Fairy Hill.
Bluebird, be quick now, spy me out the road.

translated by A.C. Graham

Staying in the Mountains in Summer by Yü Hsüan-chi

I’ve moved here to the Immortal’s place:
Flowers everywhere we didn’t plant before.

The courtyard trees are bent like clothes-horses.
At the feast, winecups float in a new spring.

Dark balcony. Path through deep bamboo.
Long summer dress. Confusion of books.

I sing in the moonlight and ride a painted boat,
Trusting the wind to blow me home again.

translated by Geoffrey Waters

Written in the Mountains by Kuan Hsiu

A mountain’s palace
for all things crystalline and pure;
there’s not a speck of dust
on a single one of these flowers.
When we start chanting like madmen
it sets all the peaks to dancing.
And once we’ve put the brush to work
even the sky becomes mere ornament.
For you and me the joy’s in the doing
and I’m damned if I care about “talent.”

But if, my friend, from time to time
you hear sounds like ghostly laughter. . .
It’s all the great mad poets, dead,
and just dropping in for a listen.

translated by J.P. Seaton

Autumn Evening: To Send to My Nieces and Nephews by Ch’i-chi

Each year, come the late autumn evenings,
I sit by the lamp recalling my old home,
gardens and groves red with oranges and pomelos,
windows and doors blue with Hsiao and Hsiang waters.
But since I left you old age has come on,
I quail at the long road that parts us.
Brothers young and old, just so you’re well,
tending fields and silkworms amid these fires of war!

translated  by Burton Watson

Don’t Ask by Ch’i-chi

Don’t ask if I’ve ceased wanting anything–
we all know the simile of the drifting clouds.
Excess wouldn’t fit the precepts:
take what comes and you’re never in doubt.
How happy, that worthy Yen!
Even the sage Confucius was poor.
Once you’ve passed the age of understanding
stop trying to change destiny’s course.

translated by Burton Watson