Poetry Tuesday: Sailing Through the Gorges

By Yang Wan-li (1124-1206)

Our boat going upstream barely moves by the inch;
The dark cliffs on both sides deepen into the dusk’s gloom
With a clap of thunder the heavens threaten rain;
A wind rushing in from the South Seas beyond the horizon
Angrily blasts the gorges asunder–
A hundred men shout and beat the big drums,
While a single swain flies up the towering mast.
When the sails are rigged, all hold their hands in their sleeves
And sit down to watch their boat–
a goose feather skimming over the waters.


Poetry Tuesday: Egrets

From 9th Century China, by Tu Mu

Snowy coats and snowy crests and beaks of blue jade
Flock above the fish in the brook and dart at their own shadows,
In startled flight show up far back against the green hills,
The blossoms of a whole pear tree shed by the evening wind.


Poetry Tuesday: Turkestan

By Ch’en T’ao, 9th century China

Thinking only of their vow that they would crush the Tartars
On the desert, clad in sable and silk, five thousand of them fell. . .
But arisen from their crumbling bones on the banks of the river at the border,
Dreams of them enter, like men alive, into rooms where their loves lie sleeping.


Poetry Tuesday: Living in the Summer Mountains

By Yu Hsuan-chi (843-868)
{So. . . just how many piles of books could there be back then?}

I have moved to this home of Immortals.
Wild shrubs bloom everywhere.
In the front garden, trees
Spread their branches for clothes racks.
I sit on a mat and float wine cups
In the cool spring.
Beyond the window railing
A hidden path leads away
Into the dense bamboo grove.
In a gauze dress
I read among my disordered
Piles of books.
I take a leisurely ride
In the painted boat,
And chant poems to the moon.
I drift at ease, for I know
The soft wind will blow me home.


Poetry Tuesday: On the Birth of His Son

By Su Tung-p’o (China, 1036-1101)

Politics never changes. . .

Families, when a child is born
Want it to be intelligent.
I, through intelligence,
Having wrecked my whole life,
Only hope the baby will prove
Ignorant and stupid.
Then he will crown a tranquil life
By becoming a cabinet minister.


Poetry Tuesday: Flirtation

Attributed to Li Ch’ing-chao, 1084-1151

After kicking on the swing
Lasciviously, I get up and rouge my palms.
Thick dew on a frail flower,
Perspiration soaks my thin dress.
A new guest enters.
My stockings come down
And my hairpins fall out.
Embarrassed, I run away,
And lean flirtatiously against the door,
Tasting a green plum.