from Dream of the Red Chamber

We present this work in honor of China’s National Day.

10-01 Cao
Cao Xuequin
715 – 763


I gaze around in the west wind, sick at heart;
A sad season this of red smartweed and white reeds;
No sign is there of autumn by the bare fence round my plot.
Yet I dream of attenuated blooms in the frost.
My heart follows the wild geese back to the distant south,
Sitting lonely at dusk I hear pounding of washing blocks.
Who will pity me pining away for the yellow flowers?
On the Double Ninth Festival they will reappear.


Abū Nuwās
756 – 814


I move through black cloud night—
Dark, at war with Dawn,
Quivers with a fine blade’s sheen—
With a vigorous, widejaw cheetah
Thickneck, spine-welded-scapulae
Leanbelly in taut-twist well-rope body
Cheek-folds plump in a scowl,
Sheeny; black teardrops on masseters
Bactrian lungs in saffron ribcage
Heavy paws, bull neck, sudden dart
A lion but for the spotty coat
Alert for shapes that shift.

A long search sights two herds
On ground flat as a man’s brow
He’s off, a slow stalk,
A trap about to explode
Puff adder slither
Through ground high and low
Face to face with his prey now—
Havoc! He scatters them across the desert
Full stretch, full pelt
Greedy fury.

Why hunt with any creature but a cheetah?

Climbing West of Lotus Flower Peak

We present this work in honor of the Chinese holiday, National Day.

Li Po
701 – 762


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.

A Song of Young Girls from Lo-Yang

Wang Wei
699 – 759


There are girls from Lo-yang in that door across the street,
Some of them fifteen and some a little older.
While their master rides a rapid horse with jade bit and bridle,
Their handmaid brings them codfish on a golden plate.
On the painted pavilions, facing their red towers,
Cornices are pink and green with peach-bloom and with willow;
Canopies of silk awn their seven-scented chairs;
Their lord, with rank and wealth and in the green of life,
Exceeds, for magnificence, even chi-lun;
He favors girls of lowly birth and teaches them to dance,
And he gives away his coral-trees to almost anyone.
The wind of dawn just stirs when his nine soft lights go out,
Those nine soft lights like petals in a flying chain of flowers.
From play to play they have barely time for singing over the songs;
No sooner are they dressed again than incense burns before them.
Those they know in town are only the rich and the lavish,
And day and night they’re visiting the homes of Chao and Li…
Who cares about a girl from Yueh, face jade-white,
Humble, poor, alone, by the river, washing silk!