from Three Dreams at Chiang-ling: III by Yüan Chen

Your bones have long since turned to dust,
My heart for just as long to ashes!
A hundred -year life has no end!
For three nights you’ve come to me in a dream.
The flowing waters have passed and are gone,
The floating clouds, where are they now?
As I sit watching the morning sun come up,
A flock of birds by twos returns.

translated by William H. Nienhauser

Remembering by Yuan Chen

I daydream, melancholy at the windowsill—-
memories I will never tell—-

our passion in the late-night hours,
our tearful good-byes at dawn.

Mountains and rivers divide us,
and I’ve given up hoping for rain.

Divided, I dream of you today—-
I even embrace the pain.

translated by Sam Hamill

White Dress by Yuan Chen

Light rain settles this white dust,
and her perfume penetrates thin walls.

Her jade-white body slips into a jade-white gown.
The embroidery is beautiful, but sad.

She blossoms like a pear against an ivory couch.
A silk blouse and green skirt

hang in the smoky incense of aloe.
Why do I waste time painting early morning clouds?

translated by Sam Hamill

Empty House by Yuan Chen

I leave my empty house at dawn
and ride to my empty office.

I fill the day with busywork.
At nightfall, back to my empty house.

Moonlght seeps through the cracks.
My wick has burned to ash.

My heart lies cold inHsien-yang Road,
under the wheels of a hearse.

translated by Sam Hamill