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!

For the Courtesan Ch’ing Lin

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

Wu Tsao
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
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.


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

Ai Qing
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?


Qiu Jin
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.

When Night Comes

Li Ching Chao
1084 – 1155


When night comes,
I am so flushed with wine,
I undo my hair slowly:
a plum calyx is
stuck on a damaged branch.
I wake dazed when smoke
breaks my spring sleep.
The dream distant,
so very distant;
and it is quiet, so very quiet.
The moon spins and spins.
The kingfisher blinds are drawn;
and yet I rub the injured bud,
and yet I twist in my fingers this fragrance,
and yet I possess these moments of time!

Stirred by Thoughts

In honor of Dragon Boat Day, we present his work from one of the genius poets of modern China.

Lü Bicheng
1883 – 1943


Dark is our country—
I rejoice in the ray of dawn shooting up in the distance.
Who will sing loudly of women’s rights?
Joan of Arc.
Eight thousand feet of snow-capped waves—I am saddened by a sea of sin,
I look at East Asia in the stormy tide of the twentieth century.
If you hear mad words and weeping coming from my boudoir,
Don’t be surprised.
Isolated and confined,
Like the eternity of night.
Fettered and bound,
With no end in sight.
Knocking on Heaven’s door—no response,
How can I pour out my angry feelings?
Far and wide I summon the departed souls to no avail,
Nowhere to let out my hot-blooded zeal.
Alas, a frog at the bottom of a well; my wish always denied.
In vain emotions are stirred.

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