Events on West Stream: For Lu She by Wei Ting-wu

My bedroom door overlooks a jade stream
the stillness of dawn drives cares away
a fine rain reaches deserted woods
ripples spread across the water
nothing else happens all day
in the mountains the sound of an axe
you’ve lived amid dust and noise too long
come loosen those troublesome hat strings awhile

translated by Red Pine

reflecting on how difficult it is to maintain one’s principles among unprincipled people, I turned to my old friend Wei Ying-wu for comfort and understanding: Seeing Off Censor Chang of the Palace Library Leaving for Chiangtso to Care for His Parents by Wei Ying-wu

Don’t sigh about the road beyond the city gate
or that you won’t be coming back in a carriage
your brocade robes are there in your trunk
along with your books from rue-scented halls
with red rice grown in a well-watered land
and whitefish fresh from the Yangtze
your breakfasts can also be offerings
what good is longing for fortune and fame

translated by Red Pine

Passing Our Old Place in Chaokuo Quarter by Wei Ying-wu

Passing our old home
I don’t see anyone I know
things have changed and the air feels warm
my heart suffers from the loneliness of the season
this pond is choked with wild bamboo
the courtyard is overgrown with unfamiliar plants
the wind scatters fading flowers
birds return to darkening hills
in the past we enjoyed this together
how strange to be recalling those times
her room in the eastern wing is closed
I can’t bear to look at the things she left
her calligraphy brush and writing kit
her perfumed scarf still damp
tools she left in her chest
pieces of silk she cut with her knife
I collected these things to bring back
but bringing them back would just cause more grief
parted forever from the joys we shared
why keep the traces she left behind
words can’t express something so dark
and to that distant place I can’t go
but the past and the present I think are one
and time soothes heartache and sorrow

translated by Red Pine

At Parting by Wang Wei

I dismount from my horse and I offer you wine,
And I ask you where you are going and why.
And you answer: “I am discontent
And would rest at the foot of the southern mountain.
So give me leave and ask no questions.
White clouds pass there without end.”

translated by Witter Bynner & Kiang Kang-hu