Lamenting Revenue Manager Liu Fen by Li Shang-yin

Dwelling apart, the star-signs changed,
hope lost, the living divided from the dead.
The last cinnamon dries in the apple jug,
old rue grows cold on the bookslips.
River winds keen, blowing wild geese,
mountain trees’ sunset glow, bearing cicades.
I shout once, my head turns a thousand times,
but Heaven is high and will not hear me.

translatedby Stephen Owen

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

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

another untitled poem by Li Shang-yin

For ever hard to meet, and as hard to part.
Each flower spoils in the failing East wind.
Spring’s silkworms wind till death their heart’s threads:
The wick of the candle turns to ash before its tears dry.
Morning’s mirror’s only care, a change at her cloudy temples:
Saying over a poem in the night, does she sense the chill in the moonbeams?
Not far, from here to Fairy Hill.
Bluebird, be quick now, spy me out the road.

translated by A.C. Graham