Sent to Ch’ao, the Palace Reviser by Meng Hao-jan

You polish words in rue-scented libraries,
and I live in bamboo-leaf gardens, a recluse

wandering every day the same winding path
home to rest in the quiet, no noise anywhere.

A bird soaring the heights can choose a tree,
but the hedge soon tangles impetuous goats.

Today, things seen becoming thoughts felt:
this is where you start forgetting the words.

translated by David Hinton

the call of the wild

he sits
intently listening
the call of the wild
feral cats
crying for food
envying him
his comfort
from the storms
the cold
the night
and he
what he’s lost
of his nature
to live
to no man
just his own wits
and I

untitled poem 8 by Fernando Pessoa

If sometimes I say that flowers smile
And if I should say that rivers sing,
It’s not because I think there are smiles in flowers
And songs in the rivers’ flowing. . .
It’s so I can help misguided men
Feel the truly real existence of flowers and rivers.

Since I write for them to read me, I sometimes stoop
To the stupidity of their senses. . .
It isn’t right, but I excuse myself,
Because I’ve only taken on the odious role, an interpreter of Nature,
Because there are men who don’t grasp its language,
Which is no language at all.

translated by Richard Zenith