Amongst the grandeur of Hua Shan
I climb to the Flower Peak,
and fancy I see fairies and immortals
carrying lotus in their
sacred white hands, robes flowing
they fly filling the sky with colour
as they rise to the palace of heaven,
inviting me to go to the cloud stage
and see Wei Shu-ching, guardian angel
of Hua Shan; so dreamily I go with them
riding to the sky on the back
of wild geese which call as they fly,
but when we look below at Loyang,
not so clear because of the mist,
everywhere could be seen looting
armies, which took Loyang, creating
chaos and madness with blood
flowing everywhere; like animals of prey
rebel army men made into officials
with caps and robes to match.
Thinking afar in moonlight
A bright moon rising over the sea,
Shores apart, watching the same
Is someone dear to me.
I loath this endless night;
And could not sleep but think of thee.
In this full moon light,
Who cares for candlelight?
Stepping out I don my gown,
And feel dew on the ground.
I wish to offer you moonlight in a handful,
But, to my real shame, ‘tis impossible.
Retirng to my bed, it seems,
I might find happier days in dreams.
The limpid river runs between the bushes,
The horse and cart are moving idly on.
The water flows as if with a mind of its own,
At dusk, the birds return to perch together.
The desolate town is faced by an ancient ferry,
The setting sun now fills the autumn hills.
And far below high Songshan's tumbling ridges,
Returning home, I close the door for now.
After examining the stump of the plum-tree outside the gate buried years ago,
there being as yet no sign,
back in my room after adjusting my icy shadow,
I unrolled and hung up on the eastward wall a painting of pink plum-blossom
by Master Ko-San.
Plum-blossom painting was a favorite pastime of people long ago, so suppose I
wash my face, at least, sit down and greet the old days?
On branches extending hesitantly to the left, five fully blooming flowers,
after bending it again, on the branches appearing on that part four buds now spread,
uh uh, five,
so on which of them do I wish I was now?
The love in retrospect
and the void in anticipation are crystal clear.
After full consideration, going out with icy shoulders
I once again squat before the plum-tree stump.
As the sound of evening bells comes close at dusk,
darkness comes, rocks come,
and someone’s eyes come too,
come . . .
I made my home amidst this human bustle,
Yet I hear no clamour from the carts and horses.
My friend, you ask me how this can be so?
A distant heart will tend towards like places.
From the eastern hedge, I pluck chrysanthemum flowers,
And idly look towards the southern hills.
The mountain air is beautiful day and night,
The birds fly back to roost with one another.
I know that this must have some deeper meaning,
I try to explain, but cannot find the words.
Li Qingzhao (Li Ching-chao, 1084-1155)
loose translation by Michael R. Burch
The migrant songbird on the bough wet with dew
brings tears to my eyes with her melodious trills—
this fresh downpour rewetting the stains of older spills;
another spring gone, and still no word from you ...
All plants, aware that spring will soon be gone,
Their brightest rose bud purple hues put on:
And from each emulous bloom
Is shed a sweet perfume.
Only the willow-catkins and elm-keys,
In their simplicity, with every breeze
Over the heavens go
Flying like flakes of snow.
English version by Jerome P. Seaton
Original Language Chinese
go where my mind will
sit when my heart's still
drink when I'm thirsty
and sing when I'm drunk
when hard times come
I find a pile of grass and sleep
the days and months are long
the world is vast
and idleness is happiness
toss off the vintage wine
use up the raw
laugh beside the earthen pot
ha, ha, ha,
hum harmonies together with this rude old mountain bonz
he has a pair of chickens
I've brought along a duck
and idleness is happiness
I've reined mind's horses
locked up my monkey heart
leapt up from red dust and evil-mannered wind
who woke me from my shady dreams of Empire?
I've left the field of honor
and wormed into a nest of joys
where idleness is happiness
he's ploughed the southern field
and slept among the eastern hills
I've been the way the world goes, often
vainly measured bygones in my mind
he's the saint
and I'm the fool
who'd argue that?