Response to yet another of Li Qingzhao’s “Butterflies Lingering Over Flowers”

Each kiss a Song of Farewell
Sung a thousand times over.

My mind and body so deranged
By our final parting,
I’d almost forgotten
About the brown sweater
You wore on the day
Of our first meeting

And that

The globe is round,
And we are half-a-world apart,
So a single step
By either of us
In any direction
Would bring both of us
Closer together.

AGG20140430
Written to commemorate my parting from MKL and leaving China, July 10, 2008.

 

·蝶恋花·晚止昌乐馆寄姊妹
泪湿罗衣脂粉满,四叠阳关,唱到千千遍。人道山长山又断,萧萧微雨闻孤馆。
惜别伤离方寸乱,忘了临行,酒盏深和浅。好把音书凭过雁,东莱不似蓬莱远。

·蝶戀花·晚止昌樂館寄姊妹
淚濕羅衣脂粉滿,四疊陽關,唱到千千遍。人道山長山又斷,蕭蕭微雨聞孤館。
惜別傷離方寸亂,忘了臨行,酒盞深和淺。好把音書憑過雁,東萊不似蓬萊遠。

Qīngzhào·Dié liàn huā·wǎn zhǐ chāng lè guǎn jì zǐmèi
Lèi shī luō yī zhīfěn mǎn, sì dié yáng guān, chàng dào qiān qiān biàn. Réndào shān cháng shān yòu duàn, xiāoxiāo wēi yǔ wén gū guǎn.
Xībié shāng lí fāngcùn luàn, wàngle lín xíng, jiǔ zhǎn shēn hé qiǎn. Hǎo bǎ yīn shū píngguò yàn, dōng lái bù shì pénglái yuǎn.

Butterfly/to long for/flower. Evening/stop/Changle/hostel/send to/sisters
Tears/wet/gather/robe/make-up/inundate, four/repetition/Yangguan Pass, Sing/until/one-thousand/one-thousand/times. Person/path/mountain/long/mountain/also/cuts off, Dreary/dreary/fine/rain/scents/hostel.
Pity/parting/injures/leaving/heart-mind/disordered, Forget/modal particle signifying completion/moment of departure, wine/glass/deep/and/shallow, good to/the/news/letter/rely on/passing/geese, Donglai/not/as/Penglai/far.

Tune: ” B u t t e r f l i e s Lingering Over Flowers” 1
A Farewell Letter to My S i s t e r s. Written at an Inn i n Chang Luo.
by Li Qingzhao

Tears stain my silk robe with rouge and powder
As the Song of Farewell is repeated
Thousands of times over.
I ‘m told the going’s hard
Over these endless ranges of mountains
That block the view.
In my lonely lodge I listen all night
To the patter of sizzling rain.

Regrets at parting drive my mind to distraction:
I forget how full I filled your cups
As I bade you adieu.
Be sure to send word
When the wild geese pass.
After all Dong Lai is not so far off as Peng Lai. 2

1)      Written when the poet was en route to Dong Lai, i.e. Laizhou in present-day Shandong Province, where her husband had just taken a new official post. She must then be around 38 years of age.

2)      According to legend, Peng Lai was an island in the Eastern Sea, where the Immortals dwelled.

Translated by Jiaosheng Wang.

Here is all the ci/词 and responses to it on this blog.

To read Songs about Sex, Death & Cicadas by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

To read  as close as the clouds by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the linke and select “Save link as…”

To read the chapbook Happy Birthday Hanafuda by Andrew Grimes Griffin just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

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Response to another of Li Qingzhao’s “Butterflies Lingering Over Flowers”

Endless night of worrying,
A dream of you,
On the shore standing,
At the ocean waves looking,
And you’re not even breathing.

I hold out my hand offering
This year’s first blooms,
Fragrant bright beings,
You just say: “Even the spring
Cannot revive everything.”

AGG20140428

Tune: ” Butterflies Lingering Over Flowers” by Li Qingzhao
Giving a Party to My Relatives on the Third Day of the Third Lunar month: A Dream
by Li Qingzhao

Low spirits, a long dreary night.
Idly I dreamed I was on my way back
To our beloved old capital—
The familiar road a blaze of
Beautiful flowers in the moonlight
As home I went with news of
This year’s glorious spring.

A few home-cooked dishes at the party,
But just to our taste:
The plums sour, the wine delicious.
In my cups how I ‘ d have loved to deck my h a i r
With a spray of bloom,
But for fear the flowers would chaff me.
But soon, oh how soon!
I woke to the stark reality :
We were both of us aging,
The Spring and I.

The dedication refers to the ancient Chinese custom of holding parties of friends or families at the river’s edge on the third day of the third lunar month to ward off evils . It dates as far back as the Jin Dynasty, when Wang Xizhi, China’s greatest calligraphist , wrote an essay in his imperishable calligraphic style celebrating one such event.

The reference placing flowers in her hair is an allusion to Ouyang Xiu’s essay “The Customs of Loyang,” which records that in spring the women of Loyang used to take delight in decorating their hair with flowers.

Translated by Jiaosheng Wang.

·蝶恋花
上巳召亲族
永夜恹恹欢意少,空梦长安,认取长安道。为报今年春色好,花光月影宜相照。
随意杯盘虽草草,酒美梅酸,恰称人怀抱。醉莫插花花莫笑,可怜春似人将老。

·蝶戀花
上巳召親族
永夜懨懨歡意少,空夢長安,認取長安道。為報今年春色好,花光月影宜相照。
隨意杯盤雖草草,酒美梅酸,恰稱人懷抱。醉莫插花花莫笑,可憐春似人將老。

Qīngzhào Dié liàn huā
Shàngsì zhào qīnzú
Yǒng yè yān yān huan yì shǎo , kōng mèng cháng’ān , rèn qǔ cháng’ān dào . Wèi bào jīnnián chūnsè hǎo, huā guāng yuèyǐng yi xiāng zhào.
Suíyì bēi pán suī cǎocǎo, jiǔ měi méi suān, qià chēng rén huáibào . Zuì mò chāhuā huā mò xiào, kělián chūn shì rén jiāng lǎo.

Here is all the ci/词 and responses to it on this blog.

To read Songs about Sex, Death & Cicadas by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

To read  as close as the clouds by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the linke and select “Save link as…”

To read the chapbook Happy Birthday Hanafuda by Andrew Grimes Griffin just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

Response to Li Qingzhao’s “Magnolia Flowers” (Shorter Version)

Red
Red clouds
Red clouds at dawn
A new day begins to bleed

White
White magnolia
White magnolia blooms
Drift nude on branches of spring

Who can compare to these?

AGG20140427

Tune: “Magnolia Flowers” (A shorter version)
by Li Qingzhao

From the flower vendor I bought
A sprig of spring just bursting into bloom-
Sprinkled all over with teardrops
Still tinged with traces of
Roseate clouds and morning dew.

Lest my beloved should think
I ‘ m not so fair as the flower,
I pin it slanting in my cloud hair,
And ask him to see
Which of us is the lovelier:
The flower or I.

Translated by Jiaosheng Wang.

·减字木兰花
卖花担上,买得一枝春欲放。泪染轻匀,犹带彤霞晓露痕。
怕郎猜道,奴面不如花面好。云鬓斜簪,徒要教郎比并看。

·減字木蘭花
賣花擔上,買得一枝春欲放。淚染輕勻,猶帶彤霞曉露痕。
怕郎猜道,奴面不如花面好。雲鬢斜簪,徒要教郎比並看。

Qīngzhào Jiǎn zì mùlánhuā
Mài huā dān shàng, mǎidé yīzhī chūn yù fàng. Lèi rǎn qīng yún, yóu dài tóng xiá xiǎo lù hén.
Pà láng cāi dào, nú miàn bùrú huā miàn hǎo. Yúnbìn xié zān, tú yào jiàoláng bǐ bìng kàn.

Reduced/word/magnolia flower
sell/flower/carry/upon, buy/one/sprig/spring/desire/release. Tears/spread/lightly/evenly, still/carrying/red/red clouds/dawn/dew/traces.
Afraid/young man-you/guess/say/slave-I/ face/not/as/flower/face/good. Cloud of hair/incline/hairpin, in vain/demand/young man-you/to compare/together/see.

Here is all the ci/词 and responses to it on this blog.

To read Songs about Sex, Death & Cicadas by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

To read  as close as the clouds by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the linke and select “Save link as…”

To read the chapbook Happy Birthday Hanafuda by Andrew Grimes Griffin just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

Response to Li Qingzhao’s “Butterflies Lingering Over Flowers”

Warm rains and clear winds
Have broken winter’s hold,
The primordial flourish of magnolia
Pulses within its bud,
Feel it beating—
The blood-hungry heart of spring.

And who is there to share with me
The fluid poetry of flesh and life?

The darkening skies light up
A kaleidoscope of screens,
This other city of men
Who live a shared dream
Of sex with strangers
In the dead of night.

Wherever, whenever
Bloom the ancient flowers bright.

AGG20140425

Tune: “Butterflies Lingering Over Flowers”
Separation
by Li Qingzhao

Sunny breezes, warm drizzle
Take the chill off the air
As the thaw sets in.
Willow sprouts like a girl’s eyes,
Plum blossoms rosy-cheeked:
Already one feels the heart of spring stirring .
Oh the delights of wine and poetry–
Who will now share them with me?
The gold-petalled hair-piece feels heavy,
And tears melt my rouge.

I try on my lined dress sewn with gold thread,
Recline idly on a pile of pillows,
Crushing my phoenix hairpin.
No pleasant dream comes to one
Alone in deep sorrow.
At dead of night I sit up,
Trimming the tell-tale wick
Of my bedside lamp.*

*The wick of the candle burnt into a flowery shape was thought to be a good omen, here presumably of the lover’s return.

Translated by Jiaosheng Wang.

·蝶恋花
暖雨晴风初破冻,柳眼梅腮,已觉春心动。酒意诗情谁与共?泪融残粉花钿重。
乍试夹衫金缕缝,山枕斜欹,枕损钗头凤。独抱浓愁无好梦,夜阑犹剪灯花弄。

Qīngzhào Dié liàn huā
Nuǎn yǔ qíng fēng chū pò dòng, liǔ yǎn méi sāi, yǐ jué chūn xīndòng.Jiǔyì shī qíng shuí yǔgòng? Lèi róng cán fěn huā diàn zhòng. Zhà shì jiā shān jīn lǚ fèng, shān zhěn xié qī, zhěn sǔn chāi tóu fèng. Dú bào nóng chóu wú hǎo mèng, yèlán yóu jiǎn dēnghuā nòng.

Butterfly/to long for/flower
Warm/rain/clear/wind/begin/to break/freeze, willow/eye/plum/cheek, already/feel/spring/heart/move. Wine/thought/poetry/feeling/who/with/share? Tears/melt/ruin/rouge/flower/inlay/heavy.
Suddenly/try/to close together /garment/gold/threw/stitch, mountainous/pillow/recline/lean on, pillow/damage/hairpin/head/phoenix. Alone/embrace/concentrated/worry/without/good/dream/late at night/still/cut with scissors/lamp/flower/to toy with.

Here is all the ci/词 and responses to it on this blog.

To read Songs about Sex, Death & Cicadas by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

To read  as close as the clouds by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the linke and select “Save link as…”

To read the chapbook Happy Birthday Hanafuda by Andrew Grimes Griffin just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

Step Away from the Buddha: brief notes on reading and response, and on salvaging Haiku (and Two Haiku for April 22)

John Mackenzie is in fine, fighting form here, bitch-slapping Buddha like the little bitch Buddha is, and producing two fine poems in the process.

Mumbling Jack

Spring is here, and, with it, a volume of Japanese Death Poems (compiled by Yoel Hoffmann) sent to me by Andrew Griffin. This book sat on my shelf for a few weeks as I gradually overcame my distaste for the prominent placement of the Zen word* on its cover. I took the Death Poems for a coffee and a walk today, sat outside in the soft spring wind and started reading the Introduction. I’m glad I managed to get by the whiff of Buddhism seeping from it.

*I consider Buddhism to be a fatuous and flatulent religion, right up there with Deism as a gaseously thin and useless theological exercise, explaining nothing. I suppose I should resign myself to the inevitability of people farting it into discussions of science, fact, life, and console myself with the knowledge that its redolence is momentary and is always swept away by the…

View original post 427 more words

Response to Li Qingzhao’s “Sand of Silk-Washing Brook”

Too lazy to trim my beard,
The moon contends with thin clouds—
Spring winds rake the dark alley.

A chaos of unread books
Spills across unmade bed sheets—
Cold words without your warm voice.

AGG20140424

Tune: “Sand of Silk-Washing Brook”
by Li Qingzhao

Languidly I leave my tresses uncombed,
Regretting that spring will soon be over.
Plum blossoms in the courtyard
Begin to fall in the evening breeze,
And moonbeams grow sparse
As light clouds drift to and fro.

The jade duck-censer idle
With the incense unlit.
Drooping tassels of many-colored feathers
All but conceal the small cherry-tinted bed-curtain.
My rhinoceros hairpin—
Is it still proof against the cold?

Translated by Jiaosheng Wang.

·浣溪沙
髻子伤春懒更梳,晚风庭院落梅初。淡云来往月疏疏。
玉鸭熏炉闲瑞脑,朱樱斗帐掩流苏。遗犀还解辟寒无。

·浣溪沙
髻子傷春懒更梳,晚風庭院落梅初。淡雲來往月疏疏。
玉鴨熏爐閒瑞腦,朱櫻斗帳掩流蘇。遺犀還解闢寒無。

Qīngzhào​ Huàn xī shā
Jì zi shāng chūn lǎn gèng shū , wǎn fēng tíngyuàn luò méi chū. Dàn yún láiwǎng yuè shū shū.
Yù yā xūn lú xián ruì nǎo , zhūyīngdòu zhàng yǎn liúsū . Yí xī hái jiě pì hán wú.

Wash/stream/sand
Hair tied-up in a topknot/Noun suffix/distressed/spring/lazy/even more/to comb, evening/breeze/court/yard/fall/plum blossoms/begin. Insipid/cloud/come/go/moon/sparse.
Jade/duck/fume/incense-burner/rests/auspicious/essence, vermillion/cherry/screen/cover-up/tassels. Bequeathed/Rhinoceros horn/still/solve/dispel/cold/not.

Here is all the ci/词 and responses to it on this blog.

To read Songs about Sex, Death & Cicadas by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

To read  as close as the clouds by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the linke and select “Save link as…”

To read the chapbook Happy Birthday Hanafuda by Andrew Grimes Griffin just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

Has clutched its beloved dead

All winter the oak
Has clutched its beloved dead
Leaves—now warm spring winds
Peel them away—one-by-one—
Forsaken—then forgotten

AGG20140423

 

To read Songs about Sex, Death & Cicadas by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

To read  as close as the clouds by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the linke and select “Save link as…”

To read the chapbook Happy Birthday Hanafuda by Andrew Grimes Griffin just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

Response to Li Qingzhao’s “Partridge Sky”

In the still bare, black branches,
A lone finch ceaselessly flits.
Another spring finds new room,
For the old sorrows to bloom.

Coffee cold, wordlessly,
I don my daily armour.
There’s no sense in delaying,
The front door sighs as it shuts.

AGG20140422

Depth Charge: The authorship of the original poem to which this is a response is disputed, often being attributed to Qin Guan. Regardless, I will treat it as one of Li Qingzhao’s.

Tune: “Partridge Sky”
by Li Qingzhao

The migrant oriole on the bough-
Tears fill my eyes
As I hear its sweet trills,
Fresh tear stains mingling with old.
A whole spring—and no word from you;
A thousand li beyond the mountain pass—
I search for you in my dreams.

Wordless, facing the cup,
I resign myself to heart-rending sorrow till dusk.
No waiting for the lamp oil to run out.
I shut the door tight
As rain pelts the pear blossoms.

Translated by Jiaosheng Wang.

·鹧鸪天
枝上流莺和泪闻,新啼痕间旧啼痕。一春鱼鸟无消息,千里关山劳梦魂。
无一语,对芳樽。安排肠断到黄昏。甫能炙得灯儿了,雨打梨花深闭门。

·鷓鴣天
枝上流鶯和淚聞,新啼痕間舊啼痕。一春魚鳥無消息,千里關山勞夢魂。
無一語,對芳樽。安排腸斷到黃昏。甫能炙得燈兒了,雨打梨花深閉門。

Qīngzhào Zhè gū tiān
Zhī shàng liú yīng hé lèi wén, xīn tí hén jiān jiù tí hén. Yī chūn yú niǎo wú xiāoxi, qiān lǐguan shān láo mèng hún.
Wú yī yǔ, duì fāng zūn. Ānpái chángduàn dào huánghūn. Funéng zhì de dēng’er liǎo, yǔ dǎ lí huā shēn bì mén

Partridge/sky
Branch/on/flow/oriole/together with/tears/hear, new/cry/traces/space between/old/cry/traces. One/spring/fish/bird/without/news, One thousand/li/pass/mountain/to labor/dream/spirit.
Without/speech/facing/fragrant/wine-vessel. To arrange/sorrow/until/dusk. Just now/burn/lamp/finished, rain/hits/pear/flower/dark/close/door.

Here is all the ci/词 and responses to it on this blog.

To read Songs about Sex, Death & Cicadas by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

To read  as close as the clouds by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the linke and select “Save link as…”

To read the chapbook Happy Birthday Hanafuda by Andrew Grimes Griffin just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

Response to Li Qingzhao’s “A Southern Song”

Up above turns a silver river of stars,
Down below flickers a galaxy of screens—
on and off and on and on.

My pillow has grown cold
With sweat from a forgotten dream.

I rise to turn off the computer
Left running while I slept,
Look out the window, wonder
How goes your night?

Shadows stitch together
Ragged images
Of your blue-green eyes
(Are they open now?)
And golden patches of your chest hair
(Have they gone as grey as mine?).

The same less-than-perfect moon
Sets as the same sun rises
(Only slightly out-of-step)
On the same memories
Of your nakedness entwined
In twisted bed sheets

—only feelings change.

AGG20140420

Depth Charge:  In the original Li Qingzhao poem, the phrase “夜何其/What about the Night?” is a reference to a poem in the foundational book of Chinese poetry, The Book of Odes, also known as The Classic of Poetry. I have written a separate response to that poem.

Tune: “A Southern Song”
In Memoriam
by Li Qingzhao

In Heaven the Milky Way turns,
On Earth all curtains hang low.
A chill steals on to my pillow-mat
Damp with tears.
I sit up to unloosen my silk robe,
And idly ask myself:
“What hour of night is it?”

The kingfisher-embroidered lotus-pods seem small,
The gold-stitched lotus leaves are sparse.
The same weather, the same clothes,
As of old.
Only my feelings are quite other
Than those of old times.

Translated by Jiaosheng Wang.

·南歌子
天上星河转,人间帘幕垂。凉生枕簟泪痕滋。起解罗衣聊问夜何其。
翠贴莲蓬小,金销藕叶稀。旧时天气旧时衣。只有情怀不似旧家时。

·南歌子
天上星河轉,人間簾幕垂。涼生枕簟淚痕滋。起解羅衣聊問夜何其。
翠貼蓮蓬小,金銷藕葉稀。舊時天气舊時衣。只有情怀不似舊家時。

Li Qīngzhào Nán gēzi
Tiānshàng xīnghé zhuǎn, rénjiān liánmù chuí. Liáng shēng zhěndiàn lèihén zī. Qǐ jiè luó yī liáo wèn yè héqí.
Cuì tiē liánpeng xiǎo, jīn xiāo ǒu yè xī. Jiùshí tiānqì jiùshí yī. Zhǐyǒu qínghuái bù sì jiù jiā shí.

Li Qingzhao South /song
Sky/on/star/river turn,human/space/curtain-screen/let down。Cold/to produce/pillow/mat/tear/traces/to cause 。Get up/untie/gauze/robe/chat/ask/night/how/it。
Blue-green/to stick to/lotus/sead head/small,Gold/to fuse/lotus root/leaf/sparse。Old/time/weather/old/time/clothes。Only/have/mood/feeling/not/like/old/home/time。

Here is all the ci/词 and responses to it on this blog.

To read Songs about Sex, Death & Cicadas by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

To read  as close as the clouds by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the linke and select “Save link as…”

To read the chapbook Happy Birthday Hanafuda by Andrew Grimes Griffin just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

Response to “What of the Night?” from The Book of Odes

What about the night?
You know—the unknowable
That encompasses
This fourteen billion year old
Droplet of expanding light

AGG20140419

Depth Charge: The Book of Odes, also called The Classic of Poetry, the oldest book of Chinese poetry, is a collection of 305 folksongs that dates back to the Zhou Dynasty, 11th to 7th Century BC. The line “夜如何其/What about the Night?” is referenced in Li Qingzhao’s poem “A Southern Song.” I have written a response to that poem as well. 

In episode six of Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey, Neil de Grasse Tyson, spoke about the seeable universe—the wall of light that is also the curtain of time—that we see in every direction when we look with microwave telescopes back 14 billion years.

庭燎:

夜如何其、夜未央、庭燎之光。
君子至止、鸞聲將將。

夜如何其、夜未艾、庭燎晣晣。
君子至止、鸞聲噦噦。

夜如何其、夜鄉晨、庭燎有輝。
君子至止、言觀其旂。

Tíng liáo:

Yè rúhé qí, yè wèiyāng, tíng liáo zhī guāng.
Jūnzǐ zhì zhǐ, luán shēng jiāng jiāng.

Yè rúhé qí, yè wèi ài, tíng liáo zhé zhé.
Jūnzǐ zhì zhǐ, luán shēng huì huì.

Yè rúhé qí, yè xiāng chen, tíng liáo yǒu huī.
Jūnzǐ zhì zhǐ, yán guān qí qí.

What of the Night?

What of the night?
The night is not yet spent.
The torches in the courtyard are alight.
But my lord has come;
Tinkle, tinkle go his harness bells.

What of the night?
The night is not yet old.
The torches in the courtyard are bright.
But my lord has come.
Twit, twit go the bells.

What of the night?
The night nears dawn.
The torches in the courtyard gleam.
My lord has come;
I can see his banners.

Translated by Arthur Waley.

To see  as different translation by James Legge, click here.

 

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