from To Dispel the Cold: Two Poems on Spring: I: Small Pavilion by Hung Liang-chi

Where is the first sign of spring?
Spring comes earliest to a small pavilion:
Upon the shadow of a bamboo blind in the moonlight,
In the tender notes from a flute in the breeze,
In the greening of a branch breaking out at the tip,
In the drippings of a candle of red passion.
In the whispered words overheard past midnight,
In the scented breath wafted beyond the wall.

translated by Irving Lo

Mad Words by Yüan Mei

To learn to be without desire, you must desire that;
Better to do as you please: sing idleness:
Floating clouds and water running—where’s their source?
In all the vastness of the sea and sky, you’ll never find it.

translated by J.P. Seaton

from On Poetry: III by Chao Yi

The best of poetry comes from the destitute, but my pocket is not yet empty;
I gather, it’s all because I haven’t perfected my skill as a poet.
Having fish to eat or bear’s paw? I admit, I’m greedy for both;
I yearn for skill in poetry, yet how I dread being poor!

translated by Irving Lo

Tune: Yü mei-jen Title: The (New) Moon on the Night of the Third of the Month by Chiang Ch’un-lin

An icy scar in the afterglow sends off the setting sun;
A hook so tiny as to startle fishes from their dreams,
Passionate souls would still say it’s perfect and round;
Just the barest hint of a woman’s brow
And suddenly it’s the Goddess of the Moon!

Enveloping the steps, the night air as thin as mist;
Flowers’ shadows lightly traced on the curtain.
I lean against the railing, no need to sleep late.
Just gazing up into the yellow dusk–
One glimpse of her overwhelms me with longing.

translated by Irving Lo

On the Road to Tang Lake by P’eng Sun-yü

In the evening I gaze out from atop a high tower;
The sun’s radiance in the forest has been clear all day.
On Lonely Mountain the autumn garrison is cold,
Up the three branches of the Mao River the night tides are born.
Fisherman’s fires appear out in the main current,
Gull-topped waves stay bright all night long.
It’s time for our boat to stop for a moment:
The misty moon is just too filled with feeling.

translated by William H. Nienhauser

from Tune: Yang-chou man (A Slow Song of Yangchow) Title: On 19 December 1853, the (Taiping) Rebels Are Approaching the Capital. Upon Hearing of the Recovery of Yangchow by Government Troops by Chiang Ch’un-lin

But what avails the common folk?
Under a dark moon, fireflies are drifting aimlessly;
The west wind sobs
Amidst ghost fires here and there.
But it hurts even more as I look toward the south:
Across the river, innumerable green-peaked hills!

translated by Irving Lo

Bent Willows by Li Chien

The river’s waves reflect a bent willow,
Unbothered by the darkening sky at dusk.
If this tree can be said to hold a grievance,
Who hasn’t felt the pangs of lost love?
I’m listless and the road home for a traveler is far;
And autumn winds rise after our leave-taking.
One day sporting a young girl’s pearl coiffure,
This morning I dread to look into the mirror bright.

translated by Hsin-sheng C. Kao