Farewell by Yü Hsüan-chi

All those tender nights upstairs in the capital, hearts content
together—I never guessed my pure-spirit love would leave.

Now, dozing and waking, I don’t mention drifting clouds gone
who knows where. The lamp burns low. A wild moth flutters.

translated by David Hinton

Untitled Poem by Li Shang-yin

It’s so hard to be together, and so hard to part: a tender
east wind is powerless: the hundred blossoms crumble:

the heart-thread doesn’t end until the silkworm’s dead,
and tears don’t dry until the candle’s burnt into ash:

she grieves, seeing white hair in her morning mirror,
and chanting at night, she feels the chill of moonlight:

exquisite Paradise Mountain—it isn’t so very far away,
and that azure bird can show us the way back anytime.

translated by David Hinton

Drinking Alone in a Small Garden by Li Shang-yin

Who could have knit the willow’s belts?
The flower buds are unwilling to open yet.
Only a pair of dancing butterflies are left;
Not a single person has come here.
I half unfold the dragon-whisker mat,
And lightly pour into the horse-brain cup.
Every year the arrival of spring is uncertain;
I have been deceived by the early blooming plum!

translated by James J.Y. Liu

Traveling By River In Lınghan by Liu Tsung-yuan

Sailing south on infested waters into the land of mist
horizon of tanglehead stretching to the sea
hills marked by elephant swaths after a rain
dragon drool rising from the depths in the sun
poison-spitting frogs that can see a traveler’s shadow
a typhoon sky frightening the passengers on board
my concerns however are other than these
namely how to bear white hair and the disappearing years

translated by Red Pine

Yüeh-yang Tower by Li Shang-yin

Wishing to disperse for once the sorrows of a lifetime,
I mount the Yüeh-yang Tower above the Tung-t’ing lake.
Over ten thousand miles I could have sailed in high spirits,
But alas, there are dragons who know how to upset the boat!

traslated by James J.Y. Liu

Remembering by Yuan Chen

I daydream, melancholy at the windowsill—-
memories I will never tell—-

our passion in the late-night hours,
our tearful good-byes at dawn.

Mountains and rivers divide us,
and I’ve given up hoping for rain.

Divided, I dream of you today—-
I even embrace the pain.

translated by Sam Hamill

White Dress by Yuan Chen

Light rain settles this white dust,
and her perfume penetrates thin walls.

Her jade-white body slips into a jade-white gown.
The embroidery is beautiful, but sad.

She blossoms like a pear against an ivory couch.
A silk blouse and green skirt

hang in the smoky incense of aloe.
Why do I waste time painting early morning clouds?

translated by Sam Hamill