To The Tune, Plum Blossoms Fall And Scatter by Li Ch’ing Chao

The perfume of the red water lilies
Dies away. The Autumn air
Penetrates the pearl jade curtain.
Torches gleam on the orchid boats.
Who has sent me a message
Of love from the clouds? It is
The time when the wild swans
Return. The moonlight floods the women’s
Quarters. Flowers, after their
Nature, whirl away in the wind.
Split water, after its nature
Flows together at the lowest point.
Those who are of one being
Can never stop thinking of each other.
But, ah, my dear, we are apart,
And I have become used to sorrow.
This love–nothing can ever
Make it fade or disappear.
For a moment it was on my eyebrows,
Now it is heavy in my heart.

translated by Kenneth Rexroth

Spring Ends by Li Ch’ing-chao

The wind stops.
Nothing is left of Spring but fragrant dust.
Although it is late in the day,
I have been too exhausted to comb my hair.
Our furniture is just the same,
But he no longer exists.
I am unable to do anything at all,
Before I can speak my tears choke me.
I hear that Spring at Two Rivers
Is still beautiful.
I had hoped to take a boat there,
But I am afraid my little boat
Is too small to ever reach Two Rivers,
Laden with my heavy heart.

translated by Kenneth Rexroth & Ling Chung

To The Tune “Plum Blossoms Fall And Scatter” by Li Ch’ing-chao

The perfume of the red water lilies
Dies away. The Autumn air
Penetrates the pearl jade curtain.
Torches gleam on the orchid boats.
Who has sent me a message
Of love from the clouds? It is
The time when the wild swans
Return. The moonlight floods the women’s
Quarters. Flowers, after their
Nature, whirl away in the wind.
Spilt water, after its nature
Flows together at the lowest point.
Those who are of one being
Can never stop thinking of each other.
But, ah, my dear, we are apart,
And I have become used to sorrow.
This love–nothing can ever
Make it fade or disappear.
For a moment it was on my eyebrows,
Now it is heavy in my heart.

translated by Kenneth Rexroth

Cassia Flowers by Li Ch’ing-chao

The twisted limbs break
Into ten thousand flecks of gold,
On layer upon layer of carved jade leaves,
Fresh and bright as the grace of Yen Fu.
The heaps of plum petals seem vulgar.
The lilacs seem coarse and contorted.
Your perfume has broken into
My sorrowful dream of the one
A thousand miles away,
And left me drained of emotion.

translated by Kenneth Rexroth & Ling Chung