TIANMU MOUNTAIN ASCENDED IN A DREAM
A seafaring visitor will talk about Japan,
Which waters and mists conceal beyond approach;
But Yueh people talk about Heavenly Mother Mountain,
Still seen through its varying deeps of cloud.
In a straight line to heaven, its summit enters heaven,
Tops the five Holy Peaks, and casts a shadow through China
With the hundred-mile length of the Heavenly Terrace Range,
Which, just at this point, begins turning southeast.
…My heart and my dreams are in Wu and Yueh
And they cross Mirror Lake all night in the moon.
And the moon lights my shadow
And me to Yan River —
With the hermitage of Xie still there
And the monkeys calling clearly over ripples of green water.
I wear his pegged boots
Up a ladder of blue cloud,
Sunny ocean half-way,
Holy cock-crow in space,
Myriad peaks and more valleys and nowhere a road.
Flowers lure me, rocks ease me. Day suddenly ends.
Bears, dragons, tempestuous on mountain and river,
Startle the forest and make the heights tremble.
Clouds darken with darkness of rain,
Streams pale with pallor of mist.
The Gods of Thunder and Lightning
Shatter the whole range.
The stone gate breaks asunder
Venting in the pit of heaven,
An impenetrable shadow.
…But now the sun and moon illumine a gold and silver terrace,
And, clad in rainbow garments, riding on the wind,
Come the queens of all the clouds, descending one by one,
With tigers for their lute-players and phoenixes for dancers.
Row upon row, like fields of hemp, range thefairy figures.
I move, my soul goes flying,
I wake with a long sigh,
My pillow and my matting
Are the lost clouds I was in.
…And this is the way it always is with human joy:
Ten thousand things run for ever like water toward the east.
And so I take my leave of you, not knowing for how long.
BALLADS OF FOUR SEASONS: SPRING
The lovely Lo Fo of the western land
Plucks mulberry leaves by the waterside.
Across the green boughs stretches out her white hand;
In golden sunshine her rosy robe is dyed.
“my silkworms are hungry, I cannot stay.
Tarry not with your five-horse cab, I pray.”
BALLADS OF FOUR SEASONS: SUMMER
On Mirror Lake outspread for miles and miles,
The lotus lilies in full blossom teem.
In fifth moon Xi Shi gathers them with smiles,
Watchers o’erwhelm the bank of Yuoye Stream.
Her boat turns back without waiting moonrise
To yoyal house amid amorous sighs.
A SONG OF AN AUTUMN MIDNIGHT
A slip of the moon hangs over the capital;
Ten thousand washing-mallets are pounding;
And the autumn wind is blowing my heart
For ever and ever toward the Jade Pass….
Oh, when will the Tartar troops be conquered,
And my husband come back from the long campaign!
BALLADS OF FOUR SEASONS: WINTER
The courier will depart next day, she’s told.
She sews a warrior’s gown all night.
Her fingers feel the needle cold.
How can she hold the scissors tight?
The work is done, she sends it far away.
When will it reach the town where warriors stay?
A SONG OF CHANGGAN
My hair had hardly covered my forehead.
I was picking flowers, paying by my door,
When you, my lover, on a bamboo horse,
Came trotting in circles and throwing green plums.
We lived near together on a lane in Ch’ang-kan,
Both of us young and happy-hearted.
…At fourteen I became your wife,
So bashful that I dared not smile,
And I lowered my head toward a dark corner
And would not turn to your thousand calls;
But at fifteen I straightened my brows and laughed,
Learning that no dust could ever seal our love,
That even unto death I would await you by my post
And would never lose heart in the tower of silent watching.
…Then when I was sixteen, you left on a long journey
Through the Gorges of Ch’u-t’ang, of rock and whirling water.
And then came the Fifth-month, more than I could bear,
And I tried to hear the monkeys in your lofty far-off sky.
Your footprints by our door, where I had watched you go,
Were hidden, every one of them, under green moss,
Hidden under moss too deep to sweep away.
And the first autumn wind added fallen leaves.
And now, in the Eighth-month, yellowing butterflies
Hover, two by two, in our west-garden grasses
And, because of all this, my heart is breaking
And I fear for my bright cheeks, lest they fade.
I challenge what may come
PASSING THROUGH HUAYIN
Lords of the capital, sharp, unearthly,
The Great Flower’s three points pierce through heaven.
Clouds are parting above the Temple of the Warring Emperor,
Rain dries on the mountain, on the Giant’s Palm.
Ranges and rivers are the strength of this western gate,
Whence roads and trails lead downward into China.
…O pilgrim of fame, O seeker of profit,
Why not remain here and lengthen your days?
LOOKING TOWARD AN INNER GATE
OF THE GREAT WALL
My heart sank when I headed north from Yan Country
To the camps of China echoing ith bugle and drum.
…In an endless cold light of massive snow,
Tall flags on three borders rise up like a dawn.
War-torches invade the barbarian moonlight,
Mountain-clouds like chairmen bear the Great Wall from the sea.
…Though no youthful clerk meant to be a great general,
I throw aside my writing-brush —
Like the student who tossed off cap for a lariat,
I challenge what may come.
A FAREWELL TO WEI WAN
The travellers’ parting-song sounds in the dawn.
Last night a first frost came over the river;
And the crying of the wildgeese grieves my sad heart
Bounded by a gloom of cloudy mountains….
Here in the Gate City, day will flush cold
And washing-flails quicken by the gardens at twilight —
How long shall the capital content you,
Where the months and the years so vainly go by?
A CLIMB ON THE MOUNTAIN HOLIDAY
TO THE TERRACE WHENCE ONE SEES THE MAGICIAN
A POEM SENT TO VICE-PREFECT LU
The Han Emperor Wen bequeathed us this terrace
Which I climb to watch the coming dawn.
Cloudy peaks run northward in the three Jin districts,
And rains are blowing westward through the two Ling valleys.
…Who knows but me about the Guard at the Gate,
Or where the Magician of the River Bank is,
Or how to find that magistrate, that poet,
Who was as fond as I am of chrysanthemums and winecups?