Since in that kingdom all my virtue spurn,
Why should I for the royal city yearn?
Wide though the world, no wisdom can be found.
I'll seek the stream where once the sage was drowned.
Feng Qi Wu
Alone I lean against the parapet of a high tower in a gentle breeze,
Gazing into the distance where the grief of separation
Looms on the horizon.
Amidst the grass and hills shimmering in the setting sun,
No one can fathom the inquietude of my mind.
I tried to drown my sorrows in wine and song;
And forced myself to drink to oblivion but I am empty still
My clothes hang loose on my emaciated body
But regrets I have none, it is because of her.
Ba sheng gan zhou
Evening rain spatters on the river.
Autumn scenes have drenched-look of dripping coat.
A wind, frosty, rise with wanting sunlight:
Strikes o'er hill and river a dismal note.
Everywhere, a bright red becomes dull red.
Leaves turn yellow; and some are even browned.
The beauty of nature — fading away.
Only the Yangzi1 flows on quiet, eastward bound.
I sigh o'er the traces I've left in places.
Why should I have stayed out for so long?
My love must have watched during her toilet —
For each boat — for me — and proved herself wrong.
How could she have known that at those moments —
I was leaning on a railing on my part,
With thousands of feelings tormenting me,
In utter despair, with a heavy heart?
He Chong Tian
On the golden list of candidates,
I lost the chance to come first 1.
And am briefly a deserted sage during this enlightened time,
What should I turn to?
Failing to achieve my ambition,
Why not indulge in passions and run wild?
No need to worry about gains and losses.
As a gifted scholar and writer of lyrics,
I am like an untitled minister.
In the singsong houses and brothels,
I keep a rendezvous behind painted screens;
My old acquaintances are to my liking.
They are worthy of my visits.
Better to take comfort in the arms of the girls in red and green
And enjoy the distractions and hours of dalliance,
Thus compensating for my disappointment.
The prime of one’s life is too short.
Better to barter empty fame
For the pleasures of good wine and sweet song.
Cicadas Chill, Shrill
(To the Tune of Yulinling)
Cicadas screech chill,
shrill, after a sudden shower.
By the roadside pavilion
in the evening, we are parting
outside the city gate, no mood
for the farewell drink, no strength
to tear ourselves apart, when
the magnolia boat urges me to board.
We gaze into each other’s eyes
in tears, hand holding
hand, all our words choked.
I’m sailing out, for thousands of miles
along the mist-enveloped waves,
the somber dusk haze
deepening against the boundless southern sky.
It’s been hard for lovers to part
since time immemorial.
How much more so
at this cold, deserted autumn!
Tonight, where shall I find
myself, waking from a hangover —
against the riverbank lined with weeping willows
the moon sinking, and the dawn rising
on a breeze? Year
after year, I will be far away from you.
All these beautiful scenes are unfolding,
but to no avail.
Oh, to whom can I speak
of this ineffably enchanting landscape?