Selling Wilted Peonies

We present this work in honor of Chinese New Year.

Yu Xuanji
Chinese
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!

For the Courtesan Ch’ing Lin

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

Wu Tsao
Chinese
1799 – 1862

 

On your slender body
Your jade and coral girdle ornaments chime
Like those of a celestial companion
Come from the Green Jade City of Heaven.
One smile from you when we meet,
And I become speechless and forget every word.
For too long you have gathered flowers,
And leaned against the bamboos,
Your green sleeves growing cold,
In your deserted valley:
I can visualize you all alone,
A girl harboring her cryptic thoughts.

You glow like a perfumed lamp
In the gathering shadows.
We play wine games
And recite each other’s poems.
Then you sing `Remembering South of the River’
With its heart breaking verses. Then
We paint each other’s beautiful eyebrows.
I want to possess you completely –
Your jade body
And your promised heart.

It is Spring.
Vast mists cover the Five Lakes.
My dear, let me buy a red painted boat
And carry you away.

Climbing West of Lotus Flower Peak

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

Li Po
Chinese
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.

Wall

In honor of the Mid Autumn Festival, we present this work by one of 20th century China’s greatest poets.

Ai Qing
Chinese
1910 – 1996

 

A wall is like a knife
It slices a city in half
One half is on the east
The other half is on the west

How tall is this wall?
How thick is it?
How long is it?
Even if it were taller, thicker and longer
It couldn’t be as tall, as thick and as long
As China’s Great Wall
It is only a vestige of history
A nation’s wound
Nobody likes this wall

Three metres tall is nothing
Fifty centimetres thick is nothing
Forty-five kilometres long is nothing
Even a thousand times taller
Even a thousand times thicker
Even a thousand times longer
How could it block out
The clouds, wind, rain, and sunshine of the heavens?

And how could it block out
The currents of water and air?

And how could it block out
A billion people
Whose thoughts are freer than the wind?
Whose will is more entrenched than the earth?
Whose wishes are more infinite than time?

Preoccupation

Qiu Jin
Chinese
1875 – 1907

 

Sun and moon have no light left, earth is dark;
Our women’s world is sunk so deep, who can help us?
Jewelry sold to pay this trip across the seas,
Cut off from my family I leave my native land.
Unbinding my feet I clean out a thousand years of poison,
With heated heart arouse all women’s spirits.
Alas, this delicate kerchief here
Is half stained with blood, and half with tears.