Month: August 2017

28 Aug

Hibiscus-flowers by the moat heave in a sudden wind

I sit here alone, mourning for us both.

Liu Zongyuan
FROM THE CITY-TOWER OF LIUZHOU
TO MY FOUR FELLOW-OFFICIALS AT ZHANG,
DING, FENG, AND LIAN DISTRICTS
At this lofty tower where the town ends, wilderness begins;
And our longing has as far to go as the ocean or the sky….
Hibiscus-flowers by the moat heave in a sudden wind,
And vines along the wall are whipped with slanting rain.
Nothing to see for three hundred miles but a blur of woods and mountain —
And the river’s nine loops, twisting in our bowels….
This is where they have sent us, this land of tattooed people —
And not even letters, to keep us in touch with home.


Liu Yuxi
THOUGHTS OF OLD TIME AT WEST FORT MOUNTAIN
Since Wang Jun brought his towering ships down from Yizhou,
The royal ghost has pined in the city of Nanjing.
Ten thousand feet of iron chain were sunk here to the bottom —
And then came the flag of surrender on the Wall of Stone….
Cycles of change have moved into the past,
While still this mountain dignity has commanded the cold river;
And now comes the day of the Chinese world united,
And the old forts fill with ruin and with autumn reeds.


Yuan Zhen
AN ELEGY I
O youngest, best-loved daughter of Xie,
Who unluckily married this penniless scholar,
You patched my clothes from your own wicker basket,
And I coaxed off your hairpins of gold, to buy wine with;
For dinner we had to pick wild herbs —
And to use dry locust-leaves for our kindling.
…Today they are paying me a hundred thousand —
And all that I can bring to you is a temple sacrifice.


Yuan Zhen
AN ElEGY II
We joked, long ago, about one of us dying,
But suddenly, before my eyes, you are gone.
Almost all your clothes have been given away;
Your needlework is sealed, I dare not look at it….
I continue your bounty to our men and our maids —
Sometimes, in a dream, I bring you gifts.
…This is a sorrow that all mankind must know —
But not as those know it who have been poor together.


Yuan Zhen
AN ELEGY III
I sit here alone, mourning for us both.
How many years do I lack now of my threescore and ten?
There have been better men than I to whom heaven denied a son,
There was a poet better than I whose dead wife could not hear him.
What have I to hope for in the darkness of our tomb?
You and I had little faith in a meeting after death-
Yet my open eyes can see all night
That lifelong trouble of your brow.

28 Aug

Hibiscus-flowers by the moat heave in a sudden wind

I sit here alone, mourning for us both.

Liu Zongyuan
FROM THE CITY-TOWER OF LIUZHOU
TO MY FOUR FELLOW-OFFICIALS AT ZHANG,
DING, FENG, AND LIAN DISTRICTS
At this lofty tower where the town ends, wilderness begins;
And our longing has as far to go as the ocean or the sky….
Hibiscus-flowers by the moat heave in a sudden wind,
And vines along the wall are whipped with slanting rain.
Nothing to see for three hundred miles but a blur of woods and mountain —
And the river’s nine loops, twisting in our bowels….
This is where they have sent us, this land of tattooed people —
And not even letters, to keep us in touch with home.


Liu Yuxi
THOUGHTS OF OLD TIME AT WEST FORT MOUNTAIN
Since Wang Jun brought his towering ships down from Yizhou,
The royal ghost has pined in the city of Nanjing.
Ten thousand feet of iron chain were sunk here to the bottom —
And then came the flag of surrender on the Wall of Stone….
Cycles of change have moved into the past,
While still this mountain dignity has commanded the cold river;
And now comes the day of the Chinese world united,
And the old forts fill with ruin and with autumn reeds.


Yuan Zhen
AN ELEGY I
O youngest, best-loved daughter of Xie,
Who unluckily married this penniless scholar,
You patched my clothes from your own wicker basket,
And I coaxed off your hairpins of gold, to buy wine with;
For dinner we had to pick wild herbs —
And to use dry locust-leaves for our kindling.
…Today they are paying me a hundred thousand —
And all that I can bring to you is a temple sacrifice.


Yuan Zhen
AN ElEGY II
We joked, long ago, about one of us dying,
But suddenly, before my eyes, you are gone.
Almost all your clothes have been given away;
Your needlework is sealed, I dare not look at it….
I continue your bounty to our men and our maids —
Sometimes, in a dream, I bring you gifts.
…This is a sorrow that all mankind must know —
But not as those know it who have been poor together.


Yuan Zhen
AN ELEGY III
I sit here alone, mourning for us both.
How many years do I lack now of my threescore and ten?
There have been better men than I to whom heaven denied a son,
There was a poet better than I whose dead wife could not hear him.
What have I to hope for in the darkness of our tomb?
You and I had little faith in a meeting after death-
Yet my open eyes can see all night
That lifelong trouble of your brow.