This self-sufficient black lady has shaken things up

We present this work in honor of the Buddha’s birthday.

Yeshe Tsogyel
c. 757 – 817


Listen, faithful Tibetans!
I am merging with the fundamental, the ground of all that is—
physical pain and suffering are disappearing…

The son, the inner elements of my body,
is reuniting with the mother, the outer elements.
Her physical remains will disappear into earth and stone.

The compassion of the Guru has never left me;
his manifestations fill all the world and call out to welcome me.

This wild lady has done everything;
Many times have I come and gone, but now, no longer.
I am a Tibetan wife sent back to her family.
I shall now appear as the Queen, the All-good, the Dharmakaya.

This self-sufficient black lady
has shaken things up far and wide;
now the shaking will carry me away into the southwest.

I have finished with intrigues,
with the fervent cascades of schemes and deceptions;
I am winding my way into the expanse of the Dharma.

I have mourned many men of Tibet who have left me behind—
but now I am the one who will go to the land of the Buddhas.

Translation by Tarthan Tulku

Reproach in a Letter on Colored Paper

Shangguan Wan’er
664 – 710


When first leaves fall on Lake Dongting,
I long for you, thousands of miles away.
In heavy dew my scented quilt feels cold,
At moonset, brocade screen deserted.
I would play a Southland melody
And crave to seal a letter to Jibei.
The letter has no other message but
This misery in living long apart.

Translation by Su Zhecong

Idle Living

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

Tao Yuanming
365 – 427


Though life is brief, feeling is everlasting;
That is why man wants to live long.
The sun and moon follow the stars.
The whole world loves this name.
The dew is cold, and the warm wind drops;
The air is penetrating, the day bright.
The departing swallow leaves no shadow;
The returning wild goose brings a lingering cry.
Wine can wash away a hundred woes,
And chrysanthemums set a pattern for old age.
Why should I, a hermit,
Gaze vacantly at the change of seasons?
The ministers are ashamed of their empty grain jars.
The autumn chrysanthemums are alone in their beauty.
I alone sing while fastening my garments.
A feeling of melancholy stirs deep within me.
It is true that there is much amusement in living,
But in idling is there no accomplishment?

from The Art of Writing

Lu Ji
261 – 303


Sometimes words come hard, they resist me
till I pluck them from deep water like hooked fish;
sometimes they are birds soaring out of a cloud
that fall right into place, shot with arrows,
and I harvest lines neglected for a hundred generations,
rhymes underheard for a thousand years.
I won’t touch a flower already in morning bloom
but quicken the unopened evening buds.
In a blink I see today and the past,
put out my hand and touch all the seas.

Translation by Tony Barnstone and Chou Ping

Poem of Sorrow and Anger

Cai Yan
178 – 249

My dwelling is often covered by frost and snow,
The foreign winds bring again spring and summer;

They gently blow into my robes,
And chillingly shrill into my ear;

Emotions stirred, I think of my parents,
Whilst I draw a long sigh of endless sorrows.

Whenever guests visit from afar,
I would often make joy of their tidings;

I lost no time in throwing eager questions,
Only to find that the guests were not from my home town.

The Celestial Market Street

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 130th birthday.

Guo Moruo
1892 – 1978


The street lights are on in a distance
As if numerous stars show.
The bright stars loom in the above
As if numerous street lights glow.
I believe there must be a beautiful market street
In that aerial heaven with cloud clear.
The goods displayed on that street
Must be rarities which we don’t have here.
You see, that shallow Milky Way
Must be not very wide.
The cowherd and weaving lady separated by it
Must be able to visit each other on a ride.
I believe at this moment along that street
Sauntering there must be they.
If you doubt, please look at that shooting star,
Which may be the lantern they are taking on their way.

Translation by Yang Xu

Plucking Mulberries

We present this work in honor of the 375th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Xia Wanchun
1631 – 1647


Willow catkins are swept up by wind and rain
Down on the ground, they roll like blobs of cotton
Down on the ground, they roll like blobs of cotton,
Revealing the spring breeze’s weakness at the pavilion.
Privately I relate my painful memory of a lost country
To the Yangtze River that flows to the east
Its whole length being filled with my grief.

Translation by Yuan Singpei

On Climbing Orchid Mountain In The Autumn To Zhang

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

Meng Haoran
d. 740


On a northern peak among white clouds
You have found your hermitage of peace;
And now, as I climb this mountain to see you,
High with the wildgeese flies my heart.
The quiet dusk might seem a little sad
If this autumn weather were not so brisk and clear;
I look down at the river bank, with homeward-bound villagers
Resting on the sand till the ferry returns;
There are trees at the horizon like a row of grasses
And against the river’s rim an island like the moon
I hope that you will come and meet me, bringing a basket of wine
And we’ll celebrate together the Mountain Holiday.

A String of Bright Beacon Fires

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

Yang Jiong
650 – c. 695


A String of bright beacon fires lights up the Capital;
My blood’s boiling, my heart’s crying out for battle!
Leaving Changan with royal warrant hastily,
Armoured cavalries aim to besiege the enemy city.

Painted banners are dimmed by the heavy snows pelting,
Thundering war drums are heard amidst the gusts howling.
O, To be a fighting centurion I’d be most willing,
Rather than a verse-reciting scholarly weakling!