A Response to a Fourth Li Qingzhao “Sand of Silk-Washing Brook”

Windows open all day long,
Birdsong laced with lilac scent,
Free to follow my own thoughts,
Sudden thunder—speeds the dark.

The rain drums out sharp warnings,
Car tires whisper and hiss,
Lightning extends bright fingers,
Distant sirens—approaching.

AGG20140526

Depth Charge: The gentle melancholy over the passing of all things in the original is replaced by a much more ominous foreboding in the response poem. Perhaps that is why a Biblical reference crept in, if it is paranoia you are looking for, you can’t beat the Abrahamic religions and killjoys like Isaiah and Paul.

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

A small courtyard, an idle window:
The mellow tints of spring.
Double blinds unfurled:
A room deep in shadow.
Upstairs, silently,
Someone plucking a jade zither.

Clouds emerging from far-off peaks
Hasten the fall of dusk.
A soft breeze blowing rain
Dallies with light shade
Pear blossoms already past their bloom—
I’m afraid one can’t keep them from fading.

Translated by Jiaosheng Wang.

李清照·浣溪沙
小院闲窗春色深,重帘未卷影沉沉。倚楼无语理瑶琴。
远岫出云催薄暮,细风吹雨弄轻阴。梨花欲谢恐难禁。

李清照·浣溪沙
小院閒窗春色深,重簾未卷影沉沉。倚樓無語理瑤琴。
遠岫出雲催薄暮,細風吹雨弄輕陰。梨花欲謝恐難禁。

Lǐqīngzhào · huànxīshā·
Xiǎo yuàn xián chuāng chūnsè shēn, zhòng lián wèi juǎn yǐng chénchén. Yǐ lóu wúyǔ lǐ yáo qín.
Yuǎn xiù chū yún cuī bómù, xì fēng chuī yǔ nòng qīng yīn. Líhuā yù xiè kǒng nán jìn.

Li Qingzhao Wash/stream/sand
Small/courtyard/to stay idle/window/spring/colour/dark, double/curtains/not/rolled-up/shadow/submerge/submerge. Lean on/building/without/words/to handle/jade/zither. Distant/mountain peak/

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 yet another of Li Qingzhao’s “Sand of Silk-Washing Brook”

The wine glass has stood empty
For more than twenty-five years.
Now, I’m intoxicated

By rain-stained lilacs x      —fading
On the evening breeze x  —tender
Beings who vanish like smoke.

AGG20140525

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

Fill no more this cup of amber,
A feeling of intoxication comes over me
Before I am deep drunk.
Evening wind blows,
Echoing the intermittent chimes of bells .

The borneols have gone out, my dream is interrupted.
My tresses fall loose,
The gold-bird hairpin is so small. ⑴
I wake up and brood idly
Over the glowing candle flame.

⑴  An allusion to a bird which spit gold presented as tribute by Yunnan to the King of Wei in the Period of the Three Kingdoms (220-265).

Translated by Jiaosheng Wang.

李清照浣溪沙
莫许杯深琥珀浓,未成沉醉意先融。疏钟已应晚来风。
瑞脑香消魂梦断,辟寒金小髻鬟松。醒时空对烛花红。

李清照浣溪沙
莫許杯深琥珀濃,未成沉醉意先融。疏鐘已應晚來風。
瑞腦香消魂夢斷,闢寒金小髻鬟松。醒時空對燭花紅。

Lǐqīngzhào huànxīshā
Mò xǔ bēi shēn hǔpò nóng , wèichéng chénzuì yì xiān róng . Shū zhōng yǐ yīng wǎn lái fēng.
Ruì nǎo xiāng xiāohún mèng duàn , pì hán jīn xiǎo jì huán sōng . Xǐng shíkōng duì zhú huāhóng .

Li Qingzhao Wash/stream/sand
Do not/allow/cup/deep/amber/dark, not/succeed/become/intoxicated/thoughts/early/harmony. Distant/bell/already/respond/evening/arrive wind.
Auspicious/essence/fragrant/melts away/spirit/dream/breaks, dispel/cold/gold/little/topknot/tied-up hair/loosen, awakening/time/idle/towards/candle/flower/red.

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…”

Monkey No Aware #27— Seamus Heaney on Poetry

lacrimae rerum by Andrew Grimes Griffin“I don’t think poetry makes you a better person or anything like that.  Wordsworth had it right. It’s a pleasure. It’s a sophisticated pleasure. It’s a learned pleasure and I think you do have to develop a sense of it.”
Seamus Heaney in the documentary Out of the Marvellous

 

 

To see all the Monkey No Aware posts, click on the Monkey No Aware tag below.

Response to Li Qingzhao’s“A Long Melancholy Tune”

White lilacs effulgent in the warm night,
x         Searching, seeking
Crabapple petals pink falling at dawn,
x         Seeking, searching,
This is Montreal in May,
x         Blooming, blossoming,
What comes of it?
x         Thickening, growing,
Pleasures transient,
x         Hardening, stiffening,
As all caresses felt,
Perfumes unseen must be.
x         (The breeze though gentle
x         still strips the flowers bare.)
Each year the buds returning,
Haven’t we met before?

White lilacs effulgent in the warm night,
x        Thickening, growing,
Crabapple petals pink falling at dawn,
x         Hardening, stiffening,
I could gather them all up
x         Blooming, blossoming,
But who would I give them to?
x         Seeking, searching,
Best to accept their random beauty,
x         Searching, seeking
Move on,
As together we wither away,
x         This is Montreal in May.

x         How can one small word
x         —spring—
x        Contain this all?

AGG20140522

Depth charge: This poem might more appropriately be called a reaction rather than a response. I have decided to progress through the original book of Li Qingzhao’s book from beginning to end. This means that I may be writing a response in a season quite different from the original. In this case, I am writing in the full blush of spring and the original poem was set in the cold twilight of autumn, and I was simply not possessed of the energy it would to take to be dreary in the Montreal in May. Instead, I have maintained some techniques from the original while completely altering the tone.

A Long Melancholy Tune (Autumn Sorrow)
Despair
by Li Qingzhao

Searching, seeking.
Seeking, searching:
What comes of it but
Coldness and desolation,
A world of dreariness and misery
And stabbing pain!
As soon as one feels a bit of warmth
A sense of chill returns:
A time so hard to have a quiet rest.
What avail two or three cups of tasteless wine
Against a violent evening wind?
Wild geese wing past at this of all hours,
And it suddenly dawns on me
That I’ve met them before.

Golden chrysanthemums in drifts—
How I’d have loved to pick them,
But now, for whom? On the ground they lie strewn,
Faded, neglected.
There’s nothing for it but to stay at the window,
Motionless, alone.
How the day drags before dusk descends!
Fine rain falling on the leaves of parasol-trees—
Drip, drip, drop, drop, in the deepening twilight.
To convey all the melancholy feelings
Born of these scenes
Can the one word “sorrow” suffice?

Translated by Jiaosheng Wang.

李清照声声慢
寻寻觅觅,冷冷清清,凄凄惨惨戚戚。乍暖还寒时候,最难将息。三杯两盏淡酒,怎敌他、晚来风急?雁过也,正伤心,却是旧时相识。
满地黄花堆积,憔悴损,如今有谁堪摘?守着窗儿,独自怎生得黑!梧桐更兼细雨,到黄昏、点点滴滴。这次第,怎一个愁字了得!

李清照聲聲慢
尋尋覓覓,冷冷清清,淒淒慘慘戚戚。乍暖還寒時候,最難將息。三杯兩盞淡酒,怎敵他、晚來風急?雁過也,正傷心,卻是舊時相識。
滿地黃花堆積,憔悴損,如今有誰堪摘?守著窗兒,獨自怎生得黑!梧桐更兼細雨,到黃昏、點點滴滴。這次第,怎一個愁字了得!

Lǐ Qīngzhào shēng shēng màn
Xún xúnmì mì, lěng lěngqīngqīng, qī qīcǎn cǎn qī qī. Zhà nuǎn huán hán shíhòu, zuì nán jiāng xí. Sān bēi liǎng zhǎn dàn jiǔ, zěn dí tā, wǎn lái fēng jí? Yànguò yě, zhèng shāngxīn, què shì jiùshí xiāngshí.
Mǎn dì huánghuā duījī, qiáocuì sǔn, rújīn yǒu shuí kān zhāi? Shǒuzhe chuāng er, dúzì zěnshēng dé hēi! Wútóng gèng jiān xì yǔ, dào huánghūn, diǎn diǎndī dī. Zhè cìdì, zěn yīgè chóu zì liǎo dé!

Li Qingzhao Sound sound slow
search/to look for/seek, cold/desolate/clear, intense cold/miserable/cruel, sorrowful. At first/warm/return/cold/times, most/difficult/to take/rest. Three/cups/two/small cups/insipid/wine, how/withstand/it, evening/comes/wind/pressing? Wild geese/passing/are/truly/broken-hearted/nevertheless/in former times/acquainted.
Fill/ground/yellow/flowers/pile/heap-up/withered/decrease/nowadays/have/who/may/pick? Watch/ing/window/noun-marker, why/must/darken? Wu/tong (trees)/even more/double/fine/rain/at/dusk, bit-by-bit. This/sequence, how/one/single/sorrow/word/comprehend/able.

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…”

Queer by Choice: A Response to Li Qingzhao’s “Joy of Eternal Union”

Magnolia blossoms barely fully out
Already begin to corrode away
x    After one night’s wind

Just before dawn they litter the cold ground
While Venus dances around her unseen
 x    Partner in the east

Just as we danced in each other’s shadow
Fucked in each other’s strong arms and then kissed
x     Under the bright lights

Once a year for a day we would parade
All whistles rippling torsos sweaty
x    In the hot sunshine

And this was the source of all our power
Full might of our choosing to come out
x    To be here and queer

And we wrote it in muscle and in blood
Then a virus came along to translate
x    Our love into dust

Now the sodomites are suburbanized
Claiming we are born this way renouncing
x    Our power of choice

And once a year we parade for a day
With our corporate sponsors and that one
x    Minute of silence

x    And in it I know
I do not begrudge the stars your body
Nor fear the silence your voice has become

AGG20140519

Tune: “Joy of Eternal Union” ①
Lantern Festival
by Li Qingzhao

The setting sun—a pool of molten gold;
Evening clouds—discs of emerald jade.
Where is he—the one in my thoughts?
Spring willows robed in hazy mist;
“Falling Plum Blossoms” wafted by a plaintive flute:
Lovely springtime—how far is it advanced?
Warm sunshiny weather at the Lantern Festival——
Who knows but it may be
A prelude to wind and rain?
My old wine and poetry companions send
Perfumed coaches, fine horses to take me f o r a ride,
But I decline all their invitations .

Sweet are memories of our old capital in its heyday!
Young ladies with time to spare
Made the Lantern Festival a special occasion for joy.
In kingfisher-feather caps and
Gold-thread jewelled hair ornaments,
They vied with one another for loveliness.
Now worn with care,
My hair wind-blown and temples frosty,
I dread going out on festive evenings.
I’d much prefer to stay behind the screen
And listen to youthful talk and laughter
As people pass by.

①  The advent of the Lantern Festival revived memories of the poet’s happy days in the Northern Song capital, the loss of which to the Tartars was always in her thoughts.

Translated by Jiaosheng Wang.

李清照永遇乐
落日熔金,暮云合壁,人在何处。染柳烟浓,吹梅笛怨,春意知几许。元宵佳节,融和天气,次第岂无风雨。来相召、香车宝马,谢他酒朋诗侣。
中州盛日,闺门多暇,记得偏重三五。铺翠冠儿,捻金雪柳,簇带争济楚。如今憔悴,风鬟霜鬓,,怕见夜间出去。不如向、帘儿底下,听人笑语。

李清照永遇樂
落日熔金,暮雲合壁,人在何處。染柳煙濃,吹梅笛怨,春意知幾許。元宵佳節,融和天氣,次第豈無風雨。來相召、香車寶馬,謝他酒朋詩侶。
中州盛日,閨門多暇,記得偏重三五。鋪翠冠兒,捻金雪柳,簇帶爭濟楚。如今憔悴,風鬟霜鬢,怕見夜間出去。不如向、簾兒底下,聽人笑語。

Lǐ QīngzhàoYǒng yù lè
Luòrì róng jīn, mù yún hé bì, rén zài hé chù. Rǎn liǔ yān nóng, chuī méi dí yuàn, chūnyì zhī jǐxǔ. Yuánxiāo jiājié, rónghé tiānqì, cìdì qǐ wú fēngyǔ . Lái xiāng zhào, xiāng chē bǎomǎ, xiè tā jiǔ péng shī lǚ.
Zhōngzhōu shèng rì, guīmén duō xiá, jìdé piānzhòng sānwǔ. Pù cuì guān er, niǎn jīn xuěliǔ, cù dài zhēng jì chǔ. Rújīn qiáocuì, fēng huán shuāng bìn, pà jiàn yèjiān chūqù. Bùrú xiàng, lián er dǐxia, tīng rén xiàoyǔ

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…”

Venus born of blood

Venus born of blood
And sea foam is suspended
Beneath the dark clouds
Of the predawn sky—unseen—
Her father’s threatening presence

AGG201419

The Mutilation of Uranus by Saturn: fresco by Giorgio Vasari and Cristofano Gherardi, c. 1560 (Sala di Cosimo I, Palazzo Vecchio)

The Mutilation of Uranus by Saturn: fresco by Giorgio Vasari and Cristofano Gherardi, c. 1560 (Sala di Cosimo I, Palazzo Vecchio)

Depth Charge: Cronus, one of Uranus’ sons, castrated and killed his father at the instigation of his mother. According to one version of the myth, Aphrodite/Venus was born when the blood from Uranus’ mutilated genitals mixed with sea foam. These days Venus and Uranus are spending some quality father-daughter time together in the early morning sky. #TraditionalFamilyValues

To read all the Tanka, and writing about Tanka, please click here.

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…”

Response to Li Qingzhao’s “Drunk in the Shade of Flowers”

Long before honey bees flew
Magnolia trees grew
Offering up blooms
x     Moon-white waxy
For wayward beetles

The May holiday weekend
Approaches—countless
Petals opening
x     No less sweet for
Anonymity

No frailer than the flowers
Best not hide ourselves
From wind and rain—our
x     Seasons of love
Being just as brief

Our longings just as ancient

AGG20140514
(Happy Birthday Sue Hughson)

李清照醉花阴
薄雾浓云愁永昼,瑞脑消金兽。佳节又重阳,玉枕纱厨,半夜凉初透。
东篱把酒黄昏后,有暗香盈袖。莫道不消魂,帘卷西风,人比黄花瘦。

李清照醉花陰
薄霧濃雲愁永晝,瑞腦消金獸。佳節又重陽,玉枕紗廚,半夜涼初透。
東籬把酒黃昏後,有暗香盈袖。莫道不消魂,簾捲西風,人比黃花瘦。

Li Qīngzhào zuì huā yīn
Bó wù nóng yún chóu yǒng zhòu, ruì nǎo xiāo jīn shòu. Jiājié yòu chóngyáng , yù zhěn shā chú , bànyè liáng chū tòu.
Dōng lí bǎjiǔ huánghūn hòu, yǒu àn xiāng yíng xiù. Mò dào bù xiāohún, lián juǎn xīfēng, rén bǐ huánghuā shòu.

Li Qingzhao drunk/flower/shade
Thin/mist/dense/cloud/worry/forever/daytime, Auspicious/essence/disappear/gold/beast. Festival/again/double/yang. Jade/pillow/muslin/bed, middle/night/cold/begins/to penetrate.
East/fence/life/wine/evening/after, Have/gloomy/fragrance/fill/sleeve. Do not/say/not/wasting away/spirit, curtain/roll/west/wind, person (I)/compared to/yellow/flower/thin.

Tune: “Drunk in the Shade of Flowers”
Double Ninth Festival ①
by Li Qingzhao

Fine mist, thick clouds:
A day of sadness drags on.
The incense in the gilt animal-burner is running out.
Once more the festive day of Double Ninth returns,
And my mesh-curtained bed and jewelled pillows
Are just drenched in the chill of midnight.

Beside the east hedge I drink after dusk;
A subtle fragrance fills my sleeves.
Don’t say one is not pining away!
When the west wind blows the blinds aside,
I am frailer than the chrysanthemums.

① Legend says that the Ninth Day of the Ninth Month i n the lunar calendar was originally a day when people in ancient times went to the hills to escape natural calamities, each wearing a bag f i l l e d with dogwood. Later it became a f e s t i v a l for groups of friends or members of a family to go picnicking on the hills to enjoy the brisk air and mellow tints of autumn—a custom immortalized in one of the Tang poet Wang Wei’s quatrains, in whlch the famous line “On festive occasions one thinks doubly of absent dear ones” is often quoted to this day.

This poem was written not long a f t e r the poet married Zhao Mingcheng, when the latter had to leave home at short notice to take up a distant official post. Its vivid images are pregnant with implicit feelings which she leaves for the reader to imagine. The concluding three lines , famous for their lyric charm, are frequently quoted. It is said that when her husband received the poem, he was overcome with admiration and took pains to compose fifty poems to the same tune t o r i v a l and surpass hers, but without success.

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…”

The Toronto Tankas

Church Street shop window
“Balloons Roses Funerals”
Clearly lays it out
How our passions parade us
From our birth into the grave

Vase with Ten Thousand Shou Characters x       An emperor’s gift
xNine-hundred seventy-five
x   Ways to write “long life”
Repeated ten thousand times
Blue and white wishful thinking

 

 

 

 

 

Fairy Luck Funerals Bates & Dodds Toronto May 2014Facing trees in bloom
Bates & Dodds Funeral Home
Sign with Chinese words
“仙福—Immortal Good Luck”
Necessary denial

Hanafuda in High Park under the Cherry Trees Toronto 2014

 

 

 

 

A Flower Card game
In High Park that makes us choose
To go on or not
The cherry blossoms though frail
So far are holding their own

AGG20140512
(for George)

 

Depth Charge: The vase (青花万寿字尊/青花萬壽字尊/Vase with ten thousand shou characters) is part of the Forbidden City exhibition at the Royal Ontario museum and was a birthday gift to Emperor Kangxi on his 60th birthday. The characters that are written on the Bates & Dodds Funeral Services sign, 仙福, may be roughly pronounced like 仙—shenn (or like the French word for dog, chien) and福—foo: shenn-foo, rhymes with chien-poo. The Flower Card game is Koi-Koi, played with Hanafuda, or Japanese Flower Cards. In the game when you score points, you must decide to risk them all and continue on the promise of an even higher score, or to settle for the smaller amount and call it quits.

This year for my birthday we are having fun with Hanafuda and Tarot cards. (Another Exploded Tanka: exploded like a bursting cherry blossom.)

To see all the Hanafuda/Tarot tanka posted to date, click here.

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 another of Li Qingzhao’s “Fisherman’s Pride”

Snow erased by sun and rain,
Every branch begins to bud
X    Dark panicles of lilac
Nebulae
X         Of rich purple in the night.

Fresh from a shower at dusk,
Tenebrous half-hidden flesh—
X    Fragrant—moonlit—muscular—
Promises
X         A pleasure crepuscular.

AGG20140509
(for Cutty)

Tune: “Fisherman’s Pride”
Early Plum Blossom
by Li Qingzhao

Glossy branches of jasper,
A sprinkling of early blossoms,
Touched up by snow bring
The first tidings of spring.
Soft and delicate in her new make-up,
Fragrant face half showing,
She emerges in the middle of the courtyard-
A beauty in the flower of youth fresh from her bath.

Nature must have regarded her with special favor,
To lavish on her such splendid moonbeams.
Come drain these golden cups of emerald
Till we’re drunk.
Of all flowers this is the one beyond compare.

Translated by Jiaosheng Wang.

李清照渔家傲
雪里已知春信至,寒梅点缀琼枝腻。香脸半开娇旖旎,当庭际,玉人浴出新妆洗。
造化可能偏有意,故教明月玲珑地。共赏金尊沈绿蚁,莫辞醉,此花不与群花比。

李清照漁家傲
雪裡已知春信至,寒梅點綴瓊枝膩。香臉半開嬌旖旎,當庭際,玉人浴出新妝洗。
造化可能偏有意,故教明月玲瓏地。共賞金尊沈綠蟻,莫辭醉,此花不與群花比。

Li Qīngzhào Yújiā ào
Xuě lǐ yǐ zhīchūn xìn zhì , hánméi diǎnzhuì qióng zhī nì . Xiāng liǎn bàn kāi jiāo yǐnǐ , dāng tíng jì, yù rén yù chū xīn zhuāng xǐ .
Zàohuà kěnéng piān yǒuyì , gù jiào míngyuè línglóng dì . Gòng shǎng jīn zūn chén lǜ yǐ , mò cí zuì, cǐhuā bu yǔ qún huā bǐ.

Li Qingzhu Fisherman/home/pride
Snow/within/already/knows/spring/news/arrive, cold/plum/adorn/fine jade/branch/soft. Spring/face/half/open/delicate/charming/gentle, on the spot/courtyard/edge, jade/person/wash/produce/new/makeup/bath.
Nature/possibly/favour/intends, hence/cause/bright/moon/exquisite/place. Together/share/gold/cup/depths/green-ant (a famous liquor), do not/decline/intoxication, this/flower/not/with/crowd/flowers/compare.

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 Sprig of Plum Blossom”

The year the geese don’t return
To skywrite our
Letters of love

Worry will descend silent
Onto our brows
Into our hearts

We’ll try and fail to recall
The scented sight
Of spring flowers

We’ll finally be as free
As falling leaves
And just as dead

AGG20140506

Depth Charge: The response to Li Qingzhao’s lyrical lament on separation from a loved one with a poem of environmental apocalypse was obviously influenced by Episode 9 of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Cosmos in which he detailed the mass extinctions experienced on Earth and warned of climate change caused by our addiction to burning fossil fuels. So, thanks for that, Neil.

Tune: A Sprig of Plum Blossom
Sorrow of Separation
by Li Qingzhao

The lotus has wilted, only a faint perfume remains;
On the bamboo mat there to a touch of autumn chill.
Softly I take off my silk dress
And step on board my orchid skiff alone. 1
Who is sending me the letter of brocade
From beyond the clouds?
When the wild geese return 2
The moon w i l l be flooding the West Chamber.

Flowers fall and drift away,
Water glides on,
After their nature .
Our yearning is the sort
Both sides far apart endure—
A melancholy feeling there’s no resisting.
As soon as it leaves the eyebrows
It surges up in the breast. 3

1) A boat made from lily magnolia wood

2) Wild geese were thought to be bearers of letters, especially love messages, because of t h e i r
regular migrations from north to south and vice versa.

3) The original is a famous couplet that s e n e 8 as natural sequel to the foregoing three lines.

Translated by Jiaosheng Wang.

李清照一翦梅
红藕香残玉簟秋,轻解罗裳,独上兰舟。
云中谁寄锦书来?雁字回时,月满西楼。
花自飘零水自流,一种相思,两处闲愁。
此情无计可消除,才下眉头,却上心头。

李清照一翦梅
紅藕香殘玉簟秋,輕解羅裳,獨上蘭舟。
雲中誰寄錦書來?雁字回時,月滿西樓。
花自飄零水自流,一種相思,兩處閒愁。
此情無計可消除,才下眉頭,卻上心頭。

Li Qīngzhào yī jiǎn méi
Hóng ǒu xiāng cán yù diàn qiū, qīng jiě luō shang, dú shàng lán zhōu.
Yún zhōng shuí jì jǐn shū lái? Yàn zì huí shí, yuè mǎn xi lóu.
Huā zì piāolíng shuǐ zìliú, yī zhǒng xiāngsī, liǎng chù xián chóu.
Cǐ qíng wú jì kě xiāochú, cái xià méitóu, què shàng xīntóu.

Li Qingzhao/one/sprig/plum
Red/lotus/fragrant/stains/jade/mat/fall, gentle/undo/gauze/robe, alone/board/orchid/boat.
Cloud/midst/who/send/brocade/letter/arrive? Geese/letter/return/time, moon/floods/west/building.
Flower/itelf/falling (like autumn leaves)/water/itself/flows, one/type/feeling, two/places/stays/worry.
This/felling/without/plan/to eliminate, as soon as/descends on /brow, then/rises up in/heart-mind.

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…”