To One Unnamed

06-03 Li
Li Shangyin
813 – 858


Time was, long before I met her,
but longer still, since we parted,
The east wind is powerless, for it has come
and a hundred flowers are gone,
And the silk-worms of spring will spin until they die
And every night candles will weep their wicks away.
In the morning mirror she sees her temple hair
changing the color of clouds
Chanting poems in the chill of moonlight.
Oh, it is not so very far to Penglai
O blue-birds listen, bring me what she says.

River Travel

We present this work in honor of the Ching Ming Festival.

Yu Xuanji
844 – 869


The River holds Wuchang in the crook of its arm.
At Parrot Island—look!—the doors of ten thousand homes.
Spring sleep in a pleasure barge isn’t done by morning.
I dream that I’m a butterfly seeking flowers too.

Misty flowers drift now into Cormorant Harbour,
though the painted barge still skirts Parrot Island.
Drunk we sleep, awake we sing, quite aware of nothing,
till morning surprises us at the Han River’s mouth.


Translation by Leonard Ng

The Almond Blossoms of Chao Village

We present this work in honor of Chinese New Year.

Bai Juyi
772 – 846


For fifteen long years,
Times without number
I have come
To see the red almond-blossoms
Open in the spring.

Now I am growing old—
I am all of seventy-three,
And it is hard for my old legs
To come thus far.

I fear that this time
Is the last,
And I have come
To bid the red blossoms of the almond
A long farewell.

The Trail to Cold Mountain

We present this work in honor of the Chung Yeung Festival.

c. 9th Century


Where’s the trail to Cold Mountain?
Cold Mountain? There’s no clear way.
Ice, in summer, is still frozen.
Bright sun shines through thick fog.
You won’t get there following me.
Your heart and mine are not the same.
If your heart was like mine,
You’d have made it, and be there!

Selling Wilted Peonies

We present this work in honor of Chinese New Year.

Yu Xuanji
844 – 869


Facing the wind, she raises a sigh as the petals fall and fall;
fragrant thoughts all sink and vanish with yet another spring.
No one asks about them, because their price is high,
though even butterflies can’t come close to a fragrance that’s so strong.
Red petals that should only have grown in a palace,
jade-green leaves tainted by the dust of the road
if only they were moved into the imperial gardens,
young nobles would regret having no means to buy!

O, Whom He Misgives Into Singing Bird Is Wrong

Ibn Abd Rabbihi
Arab Andalusian
860 – 940


O, whom he misgives into singing bird is wrong
I didn’t think anyone carry this stingy feature for long
If all peoples’ ears would listen to its sound
Its sound will be not lessened or multiplied
If not I took care form thy meteor would burn me
I should eavesdrop to distant place probably
If Zaryab the musical was alive then he heard me
He would be dissolved at jealousy and died sadly
Don’t be grudger upon my hearing tiring to copy
It is a sound can play instead of soul in the body
Yet wine I don’t drink it now and formerly
I don’t come to thee unless I am satisfied totally

Moon Over Frontier Mountains

In honor of the Ching Ming Festival, we present this work by one of the great poets of ancient China.

Bao Junhui
798 – ?


Risen high — the moon of fall
Glows north on a Liaoyang barricade
The border is far — the moon gleams farther
Ice-bows flash as winds invade
Soldiers gaze back — home beats at the heart
And war-steeds balk at the beat of a drum
The north wind grieves in the frontier grass
And barbarous sands hide hordes to come
Frost freezes the swordblade into the sheath
Wind wears their banner to bits on the plain
Oh someday— someday —to bow near the palace
And never hear camp-gongs clang again