The Temple of Su Wu by Wen T’ing-yun

Though our envoy, Su Wu, is gone, body and soul,
This temple survives, these trees endure. . .
Wildgeese through the clouds are still calling to the moon there
And hill-sheep unshepherded graze along the border.
. . .Returning, he found his country changed
Since with youthful cap and sword he had left it.
His bitter adventures had won him no title. . .
Autumn-waves endlessly sob in the river.

translated by Witter Bynner & Kiang Kang-hu

To A Friend Bound East by Wen T’ing-yun

The old fort brims with yellow leaves. . .
You insist upon forsaking this place where you have lived.
A high wind blows at Han-yang Ferry
And sunrise lights the summit of Ying-men. . .
Who will be left for me along the upper Yang-tsze
After your solitary skiff has entered the end of the sky?
I ask you over and over when we shall meet again,
While we soften with winecups this ache of farewell.

translated by Witter Bynner & Kiang Kang-hu

An Early Walk on Shang Mountain by Wen T’ing-yün

Departing at dawn, carriage bells ajingle–
The traveler grieves for his ancestral home.
A cock’s crow, a thatched teahouse in the moonlight,
Human footprints on the frosted bridge planking,
Betel leaves fallen by the mountain road,
Orange blossoms bright on the station wall–
And so I dream a dream of Ch’ang-an,
Where ducks and geese settle, crowding the pond.

translated by William R. Schultz

Early Autumn in the Mountains by Wen T’ing-yün

Here, next the mountain, the cold comes early,
Crisp and clear, the air in the thatched hut.
Barren trees admit the sun to the window,
The cistern, brimming full, is still and silent.
Fallen nuts mark the monkeys’ trail,
Dry leaves rustle to the passage of deer.
A plain zither–an untrammeled heart–
Hollowly accompanies the clear spring at night.

translated by William R. Schultz

A Spring Day in the Countryside by Wen T’ing-yün

Astride a mount pawing misty sedge grass,
How can one be resentful of the vernal spring
Where butterfly wings dust the flowers at dawn
And the backs of crows glisten everywhere in the setting sun;
Where lush willows compete with the fragrant sash,
And melancholy hills tighten kingfisher eyebrows.
The feeling of separation, what is there to say
But that the heart is an endless river of stars.

translated by William R. Schultz

from Song of WaterClock at Night: Lyric 2 by Wen T’ing-yün

A goldfinch in my hair,
My cheek’s brightly rouged,
For one brief moment we met among flowers.
You understood my heart,
And tender was your love.
Only Heaven knew the joy we shared.

The incense turns to ashes,
The candle dissolves in tears;
How like our innermost feelings for one another.
The peaked pillow is smeared,
The brocade covers cold,
When waking I find the water clock has stopped.

translated by William R. Schultz