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

Umbrella by Ai Qing

One morning I asked the umbrella
Whether it would rather bake in the sun
Or stand soaking in the rain

The umbrella answered with a smile,
“Those things don’t bother me.”

I kept on questioning,
“Then what is your concern?”

The umbrella said,
“I keep thinking
On rainy days, ‘Don’t let people’s clothes get wet,’
And on sunny days, ‘Be a cloud that shades the head.'”

Hope by Ai Qing

A friend of dreams
And sister of fantasy

She is your very shadow
But always walks ahead

Shapeless as pure light
Restless as the wind

There is always some distance
Between the two of you

Like a bird flying outside the window
Or a cloud sailing in air

Like the butterfly beside the river
Cagey yet exquisite

Go after her–she’ll fly away
Ignore her–she’ll chase you

She’ll always keep you company
Until your breathing stops

translated by Fang Dai, Dennis Ding, & Edward Morin

The Echo by Ai Qing

She’s hiding in the valley
She’s standing over the cliff
If you refuse to dally
She’ll act as if she’s deaf

But call her and she’ll call you
Curse her and you she’ll curse
You can’t win if you argue
The last word’s always hers

translated by Fang Dai, Dennis Ding, & Edward Morin