The authors for the following poems are unknown.

After Lunch

After lunch, one short nap; on waking up, two cups of tea.  Raising my head, I see the sun’s light, once again slanting to the south-west.  Those who are happy, regret the shortness of the day; those who are sad, tired of the year’s sloth. But those whose hearts are devoid of joy or sadness, just go on living, regardless of “short” or “long.”

Chuang-Tzu, The Monist

Chuang-Tzu levels all things, and reduces them to the same Monad.  But I say that even in their sameness, difference may be found.  Although in following the promptings of their nature, they display the same tendency, yet it seems to me that in some ways, a phoenix is superior to a reptile!

Dreaming That I Went To Visit  Yuan-Chen

At night I dreamed I was back in Chang-An; I saw again the faces of old friends.  And in my dreams, under an April sky, they led me by the hand to wander in the Spring winds.  Together we came to the ward of Peace and Quiet; we stopped our horses at the gate of Yuan-Chen.  Yuan-Chen was sitting all alone; when he saw me coming, a smile came to his face.  He pointed back at the flowers in the western court; then opened wine in the northern summer-house.  He seemed to be saying that neither of us had changed; he seemed to be regretting that joy will not stay; that our souls had met only for a little while, to part again with hardly time for greeting.  I woke up and thought him still at my side; I put out my hand; there was nothing there at all.

Folk Song

I have brought my pillow and am lying at the northern window, so come to me and play with me a while.  With so much roughness and so little play, how long do you think our love can last?

I will gather up my skirt, but not put on my belt; I will trim my eyebrows and stand at the front window.  My tiresome petticoat keeps on flapping about; if it opens a little I shall say it was the Spring wind.

I am steadfast as the star of the Northern Pole; in a thousand years it never shifts from its place.  You have ways that are like the bright sun; in the morning, east; in the evening again west.

When dusk gathered you came in over the hedge; but when dawn was near you sallied out at the gate.  Alas that my dear one should care only for himself; what happens to me he does not care at all.

At the fifth watch I rose and opened the door, just in time to see my love go by.  “Where do you come from, where have you spent the night?  Dear Love, that your clothes are covered with frost and dew?”

I heard my love was going to Yang-Chow, and went with him as far as Chu Hill. For a moment, when you held me fast in your outstretched arms, I thought the river stood still and did not flow.

Illness

Dear friends, there is no cause for so much sympathy.  I shall certainly manage from time to time to take my walks abroad.  All the matters is an active mind, what is the use of feet?  By land, one can ride in a carrying-chair; by water, be rowed in a boat.

Joy At The Temple Alone

The crane from the shore standing at the top of the steps.  The moon on the pool seen at the open door; where these are, I made my lodging-place, and for two nights could not turn away. I am glad I chanced on a place so lonely and still, with no companion to drag me early home.  Now that I have tasted the joy of being alone, I will never again come with a friend at my side.

Oaths of Friendship

If you were riding in a coach, and I were wearing a straw hat, and one day we met in the road, you would get down and bow.  If you were wearing a straw rain-coat, and I were riding on a horse, and one day we met in the road, I would get down for you.  I want to be your friend, for ever and ever without break or decay.  When the hills are all flat, and the rivers are all dry; when it lightens and thunders in winter, when it rains and snows in summer; when Heaven and Earth mingle – not till then will I part from you.

Old Age

We are growing old together, you and I; let us ask ourselves, what is age like?  The dull eye is closed before night comes; the idle head, still uncombed at noon.  Propped on a staff, sometimes a walk abroad; or all day sitting with closed doors.  One dares not look in the mirror’s polished face; one cannot read small-letter books.  Deeper and deeper, one’s love of old friends; fewer and fewer, one’s dealings with young men.  One thing only, the pleasure of idle talk, is great as ever, when you and I meet.

Old And New

She went up the mountain to pluck wild herbs; she came down the mountain and met her former husband.  She knelt down and asked her former husband, “What do you find your new wife like?”  “My new wife, although her talk is clever, cannot charm me as my old wife could. In beauty of face there is not much to choose, but in usefulness they are not at all alike.  My new wife comes in from the road to meet me; my old wife always came down from her tower.  My new wife weaves fancy silks; my old wife was good at plain weaving.  Of fancy silk one can weave a strip a day; of plain weaving, more than fifty feet.  Putting her silks by the side of your weaving, I see that the new will not compare with the old.”

On His Baldness 

At dawn I sighed to see my hairs fall; at dusk I sighed to see my hairs fall.  For I dreaded the time when the last lock should go.  They are all gone and I do not mind at all!  I have done with that cumbrous washing and getting dry; my tiresome comb for ever is laid aside.  Best of all, when the weather is hot and wet, to have no top-knot weighing down on one’s head!  I put aside my messy cloth wrap; I have got rid of my dusty tasselled fringe.  In a silver jar I have stored a cold stream, on my bald pate I trickle a ladle full.  Like one baptized with the Water of Buddha’s Law, I sit and receive this cool, cleansing joy.  Now I know why the monk who seeks Repose free his heart by first shaving his head.

Sleeping On Horseback

We had ridden long and were still far from the inn; my eyes grew dim; for a moment I fell asleep.  Under my right arm the whip still dangled; in my left hand the reins for an instant slackened.  Suddenly I woke and turned to question my groom.  “We have gone a hundred paces since you fell asleep.” Body and spirit for a while had changed places; swift and slow had turned to their contraries.  For these few steps that my horse had carried me, had taken in my dream countless aeons of time!  True indeed is that saying of Wise Men: “A hundred years are but a moment of sleep.”

The South of The Great Sea

My love is living, to the South of the Great Sea.  What shall I send to greet him?  Two pearls and a comb of tortoise-shell.  I will send them to him bound with ropes of jade.  They tell me he is not true; they tell me he dashed my things to the ground, dashed them to the ground and burnt them, and scattered the ashes to the wind.  From this day to the ends of time, I must never think of him; never again think of him.  The cocks are crowing, and the dogs are barking.  My brother and his wife will soon know.  The autumn wind is blowing; the morning wind is sighing.  In a moment the sun will rise in the east, and then it too will know.

The Letter

In your letter you said you dreamed of me.  We talked together in the Yung-Shou Temple; we parted to the north of the Hsin-chang ward.  Going home, I shed a few tears, grieving about things, not sorry for you. Long, long the Lan-Tian Road; you said yourself you would not be able to write.  Reckoning up your halts for eating and sleeping, by this time you’ve crossed the Shang mountains.  Last night the clouds scattered away; a thousand leagues, the same moonlight scene.  When dawn came, I dreamed I saw your face; It must have been that you were thinking of me.  In my dream, I thought I held your hand, and asked you to tell me what your thoughts were.

Chinese Valentine’s Day

The Seventh Day of the Seventh Lunar Month

Long time ago, Niulang who was a young cowherd saw seven fairy sisters bathing in a beautiful lake.  He was encouraged by his ox to steal a fairy’s clothes.  Zhinu, the fairy whose clothes was stolen, couldn’t go back to the Heaven.  So, she married Niulang and had children. But the God of Heaven was angry when he heard the news and sent the Goddess of Heaven to bring Zhinu back.  The Goddess of Heaven used her hairpin to draw a wide river in the sky to separate the two lovers forever.  They could only meet each other once in a year.  That’s on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month, and on this day thousands of  swallows  formed a bridge in the sky bringing them together.  It’s indeed a beautiful but sad romance.

(9/3/06)

Sudden Wake to Autumn

The white clouds are racing with the north wind, the Fen River crossed, there’s still far to go. Withered leaves fall upon a thought-filled mind, the sounds of autumn grate on one’s ears so.

Answer to Someone

I happen to come under a pine tree, and, head on rock, dream of things long ago. As the mountain has no calendar to know; cold come and cold go – what year is it?  Tell me!

Vain Hermit Visit

I asked the boy under a pine tree. “My master’s gone herb-gathering,”  he said. “May be he’s just about this mountain some where.”  Clouds and mists make it hard to see what’s where.

Mounting the Stork Tower

The paling sun rolls over the distant hill; the Yellow River rushes toward the sea. Wishing to reach your eye-sight further still; mount the top floor and see how things can be.

Seeing a Monk-Friend Off

Old, old the temple hid midst bamboos tall; faint, faint sounding the temple bell’s night call.  Straw-hat on shoulder, slanting sun on back; towards far-off green hills you’ll bend your lone track.

 To Dear Old Friend

Thought turns to you – this autumn night so fair; strolling I breathe some lines on the cool air.  Mountains seemed empty and pine-cones anxious to fall; old friend, if not in bed, do hear my call?

Song On Autumn Wind

Where does it come from – this bleak autumn wind?  That, whistling, south-sails the trooping wild geese.  Its morning prowling through the courtyard trees, the solitary soul’s the first to find.