Song 2 by Tzu-yeh

In the hottest time, when all is still and windless
and summer clouds rise up at dusk,
under the dense leaves, take my hand
and we’ll float melons on the water, dunk crimson plums.

translated by Burton Watson

A Riddle and a Gift by Li Shang-yin

A brocade curtain parts: there’s
the legendary beauty, Madam Wei!

embroided quilts, meantime,
still cloak the boatman’s shoulders. . .

or think of the slow dance, Hanging Hands,
and carved jade dangling from a sash

and the fast dance, Bending Waist,
with a fluttering saffron skirt!

colors flaring from candles
a rich man never thinks to trim

and fragrance like that of the holy man
who needed no incense or perfume. . .

I dreamed I was that poor poet
who got hold of a genius’s brush:

wanting to create such leaves, such blooms,
that I could send to you

my lady of dawn clouds,
my peony.

translated by David Young