Response to Another of Li Qingzhao’s “Partridge Sky”

Days have already begun
To eat themselves and the nights
x     Begun to lengthen,
Making more time for broken
Dreams of panic and regret,
x     But I will not fear
The scented ghost of roses
Dying in red darkness as,
x     Occasionally,
Shadows fill with warm breathing,
Our bodies together—strong—
x     However briefly.

AGG20140627
(for Cutty)

Tune: “Partridge Sky”
Solitude
by Li Qingzhao

The parasol-trees must hate
Last night’s hoar frost
As their shadows fall on my patterned window
Where the bleak sun is dismally climbing.
Bitter brick tea will just do for me after wine,
And the borneols smell good
Now my dream is interrupted.

Autumn ends, but the day is still long.
I feel more dreary than
The homesick Zhong Xuan① of bygone days.
Better be content with my cup
As is my wont,
And not miss the chrysanthemums
Blooming by the east hedge.

① The style name of Yang Can (c.177-217) ,one of the seven masters of the Jian An style of & poetry. He wrote a nostalgic prose-poem to vent his homesickness while living in a remote bun after the fall of the Han Dynasty.

Translated by Jiaosheng Wang.

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

李清照鹧鸪天
寒日萧萧上锁窗,梧桐应恨夜来霜。酒阑更喜团茶苦,梦断偏宜瑞脑香。
秋已尽,日犹长,仲宣怀远更凄凉。不如随分尊前醉,莫负东篱菊蕊黄。

李清照鷓鴣天
寒日蕭蕭上鎖窗,梧桐應恨夜來霜。酒闌更喜團茶苦,夢斷偏宜瑞腦香。
秋已盡,日猶長,仲宣懷遠更淒涼。不如隨分尊前醉,莫負東籬菊蕊黃。

Lǐ Qīngzhào zhè gū tiān
hán rì xiāoxiāo shàng suǒ chuāng , wútóng
yīng hèn yèlái shuāng. Jiǔ lán gèng xǐ tuán chá kǔ , mèng duàn piān yí
ruì nǎo xiāng.
Qiū yǐ jìn, rì yóu zhǎng, zhòng xuān huáiyuǎn gèng qīliáng . Bùrú suífēn zūn qián zuì , mò fù dōng lí jú ruǐ huáng.

Li Qingzhao/Partridge/sky
Cold/sun/miserable/dreary/to go up/lock/window, parasol tree/must/hate/night/arrive/frost. Wine/exhausted/more/enjoy/portion/tea/bitter, dream/broken/prefer/should/incense/fragrance.
Autumn/already/finished, days/still/long, Zhong Xuan/feeling/distant/more/desolate/dreary. Not as good as/casually/wine goblet/before/intoxicated, not/to turn one’s back on/east/fence/chrysanthemum/stamen-pistil/yellow

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…”

Summer Solstice: A Response to Li Qingzhao’s “Airing Innermost Feelings”

Today’s the longest day of the year;
Here is some of what you missed:
A park full of birdsong
And roses in full bloom.

Tonight’s the shortest night of the year,
Barely time for one broken dream
Of your arms enfolding me before
The scent of roses in full bloom
Troubled the empty dark
Of the open window
With an absence
Of your gentle breath.

AGG20140621

Depth charge: Just a note on the incredible compactness of Classical Chinese. In the line月依依, the first character is the word “moon” but the last two characters can mean “to regret leaving,” “to be reluctant to part,” or be an onomatopoetic representation of “young leaves stir gently in the wind.”

Tune: “Airing Innermost Feelings”
By Li Qingzhao

Last night, dead drunk, I dawdled
While undoing my coiffure,
And fell asleep with a sprig of
Faded plum blossom in my hair.
The fumes of wine gone,
I was woken out of my spring sleep
By the pungent smell of the petals,
And my sweet dream of far-off love
Was broken beyond recall.

Now all voices are hushed.
The moon lingers and softly spreads her beams
Over the unfurled kingfisher-green curtain.
Still, I twist the fallen petals,
I crumple them for their lingering fragrance,
I try to recapture a delicious moment.

Translated by Jiaosheng Wang.

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

李清照诉衷情
夜来沈醉卸妆迟,梅萼插残枝。
酒醒熏破春睡,梦远不成归。
人悄悄,月依依,翠帘垂。
更挼残蕊,更捻余香,更得些时。

李清照訴衷情
夜來沈醉卸妝遲,梅萼插殘枝。
酒醒熏破春睡,夢遠不成歸。
人悄悄,月依依,翠簾垂。
更挼殘蕊,更捻餘香,更得些時。

Lǐ Qīngzhào sù zhōng qíng
yè lái shěn zuì xiè zhuāng chí , méi è chā cán zhī 。
jiǔ xǐng xūn pò chūn shuì , mèng yuǎn bù chéng guī 。
rén qiǎo qiǎo , yuè yī yī , cuì lián chuí 。
gēng nuó cán ruǐ , gēng niǎn yú xiāng , gēng dé xiē shí 。

Li Qingzhao To tell/inner feellins/feelings
Night/arrive/deep/intoxicated/remove/makeup/delayed, plum/stem/stuck/ruin/branch.
Wine/awaken/fragrance/break/spring/sleep, dream/distant/not/able/return.
People/quiet/silent, moon/regret/leaving, bluish-green/curtain/hangs.
Still/crumple/ruin/stamen, still/twirl in fingers/extra/fragrant, still/to get/some/time.

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…”

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What Possible Pleasures

Now that you are tightly held
By everyone’s final lover,
Leaving us to salt our own wounds
In each other’s wanting arms,
I know, I know you said we must
Get past the problems of today
For the enjoyment of tomorrow,
So please, please forgive us our tears
Because right now it is hard to see
What possible pleasures could be
Born of pain so sharp, so dear.

AGG20140618
(In Memoriam, Doug McColeman, 1962-2014)

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…”

A Response to Li Qingzhao’s “Picking Mulberry Seeds”

The cut peonies suffer
Fragrant little deaths at night
Drumming drumming—the June rain
Falling falling—in the dark

I do not know who planted
The flowering tree out front
Locust blooms—falling falling
In the rain—drumming drumming

We planted maple saplings
All around our childhood home
Then we moved—back from away
For brief visits—I can see

The maples at least have become
Everything they could and should be

AGG2014061

Depth Charge: After many drafts and re-writes, this response has fashioned itself into a pseudo-sonnet.

Tune: “Picking Mulberry Seeds”‘
Banana Tree
By Li Qingzhao

Who planted the banana trees in front of my casement,
Filling the courtyard with shadows,
With shadows?
Each leaf a heart brimming over with love
As it closes or unfolds.

Patter of midnight rain on the leaves
Haunting the pillow–
Dripping ceaselessly,
Dripping ceaselessly.
Dismal sounds, painful memories:
An outcast from the North in the throes of sorrow
Cannot bear to sit up and listen.

Translated by Jiaosheng Wang.

李清照添字采桑子
窗前谁种芭蕉树,阴满中庭。阴满中庭,叶叶心心,舒卷有余情。
伤心枕上三更雨,点滴霖霪。点滴霖霪,愁损离人,不惯起来听。

李清照添字采桑子
窗前誰種芭蕉樹,陰滿中庭。陰滿中庭,葉葉心心,舒卷有餘情。
傷心枕上三更雨,點滴霖霪。點滴霖霪,愁損離人,不慣起來聽。

Lǐqīngzhào tiānzì cǎi sāngzi
chuāng qián shuí zhǒng bājiāo shù, yīn mǎn zhōngtíng. Yīn mǎn zhōngtíng, yè yè xīnxīn, shū juàn yǒuyú qíng.
Shāngxīn zhěnshàng sān gēng yǔ, diǎndī lín yín. Diǎndī lín yín, chóu sǔn lí rén, bù guàn qǐlái tīng.

Li Qingzhao to add/word/pick/mulberry/seed
Window/in front of/who?/to plant/banana/tree, shadow/full/middle/courtyard. Shadow/full/middle/courtyard, leaf/leaf/heart/heart, unfold/roll/to have/abundant/feeling.
Injure/heart/pillow/on/third/watch (of the night)/rain, drip/drop/conintuous rain/heavy rain. drip/drop/continuous rain/heavy rain, worry/damaged/from away/person/not/accustomed/rise/up/listen.

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…”

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A Response to Li Qingzhao’s “Nostalgia for Fluting on the Phoenix Terrace”

The birds
The little birds
The little brown birds
The little brown birds
Sing wordless songs at dawn

The tree
The locust tree
The flowering locust tree
The flowering locust tree
Caressed all day by honeybees

The Moon
The Moon and Mars
The Moon and Mars—white and red
The Moon and Mars—white and red
Waltz through the midnight skies

Each day I rise
Each day I make the bed
Each day I listen to wordless songs
Watch the blossoms get caressed
Try to sleep with the Moon and Mars
Together waltzing through midnight stars

And I think at least the wind will blow
And the world will spin all of this away
Like you who would not stay
You who refuses to be seen
Not even in my dreams
Because if you could disappear
If you will not be here
Why should they persist?

The birds
The little birds
The little brown birds

AGG20140610

Depth charge: Li Qingzhao’s poem about separation from a loved one may have been the original impetus for this poem, but in the end it was a line from a Carter Family song Darling Little Joe: “Thelittle brown birds around the door,” that provided the key. I also found inspiration in Skeeter Davis’ The End of the World and, finally, by commenting on the locust tree outside my wind and being challenged by a friend to turn it into a poem.

Tune: “Nostalgia for Fluting on the Phoenix Terrace”
Separation
by Li Qingzhao

No more incense smoke from the gilt lion burner;
Quilts in the bed: a riot of crimson waves.
A night of unrestful sleep,
And I am in no mood to comb my hair,
Heedless that my jewelled toilet-set is covered with dust,
And the morning sun peeping above the curtain-hooks.
A jumble of parting thoughts,
Yet I hesitate on the verge of utterance
For fear of bitterness.
Of late I’ve been growing thin,
Not that I over-drink myself,
Nor from lament for the autumn.

Finished! Finished!
Ten thousand Songs of Farewell① failed to detain
The loved one-now gone f a r away
To Wu Ling Peach Blossom Springs. ②
Here in this mist-locked chamber
I sit brooding t h e livelong day,
With only the limpid stream showing me sympathy
As it glides quietly past the terrace.
A fresh wave of regret floods my heart
Where I gaze.

①  An allusion to a poem written by Wang Wei of the Tang Dynasty (618-907) to see off a friend, which in later generations came to be widely used as a song of farewell, with its last line
“West of Yang Guan you’ll have no more old friends ” sung as a refrain. Yang Guan was an ancient pass in present-day Gansu province.

②  The poet compares her husband to the fisherman who sojourned in the Land of Peach Blossom Springs in Tao Yuanming’s Utopian essay.

Translated by Jiaosheng Wang.

李清照凤凰台上忆吹箫
香冷金猊,被翻红浪,起来慵自梳头。任宝奁尘满,日上帘钩。生怕离怀别苦,多少事、欲说还休。新来瘦,非干病酒,不是悲秋。
休休,这回去也,千万遍《阳关》,也则难留。念武陵人远,烟锁秦楼。唯有楼前流水,应念我、终日凝眸。凝眸处,从今更添,一段新愁。

李清照鳳凰台上憶吹簫
香冷金猊,被翻紅浪,起來慵自梳頭。任寶奩塵滿,日上簾鉤。生怕離懷別苦,多少事、欲說還休。新來瘦,非干病酒,不是悲秋。
休休,這回去也,千萬遍《陽關》,也則難留。念武陵人遠,煙鎖秦樓。唯有樓前流水,應念我、終日凝眸。凝眸處,從今更添,一段新愁。

Lǐqīngzhào fènghuáng tái shàng yì chuī xiāo
Xiāng lěng jīn ní, bèi fān hóng làng, qǐlái yōng zì shūtóu. Rènbǎolián chén mǎn, rì shàng lián gōu. Shēngpà lí huái bié kǔ, duōshǎo shì, yù shuō hái xiū. Xīn lái shòu, fēi gàn bìng jiǔ, bùshì bēi qiū.
Xiū xiū, zhè huíqù yě, qiān wàn biàn “yáng guān”, yě zé nán liú . Niàn wǔlíng rén yuǎn, yān suǒ qín lóu. Wéiyǒu lóu qián liúshuǐ, yīng niàn wǒ, zhōngrì níngmóu. Níngmóu chù, cóng jīn gèng tiān, yīduàn xīn chóu.

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…”

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A Response to Li Qingzhao’s “The Charm of a Maiden Singer”

All the beings meant to die
Early have already come and gone—
Cherry, crabapple, magnolia and lilac—
Only occasional blooms surprising
With unexpected late-night fragrance.

After the first mad rush of fresh spring growth,
Suddenly, the weather turns cold
And a fine, sad rain slants in all the alleyways
Littered with maple seeds,
Fallen wings as impotent as the angels.

Many beings who need not have died
Early have already come and gone—
Fifteen fatal overdoses in one month—
As ambulance lights stain
The darkness red and white.

Behind closed, double-pane windows,
I echo a threnody for all the beings
Come and gone too early,
Sung by sirens and newspaper headlines,
Spring breezes and autopsy reports:

Now you’ve been born into death,
Your name nothing but a sigh,
The grave will be your cradle,
The night wind your lullaby.

AGG20140607
(for M.E.)

Depth Charge: The newspapers are reporting that this spring in Montreal the number of fatal drug overdoses has rocketed, 15 in the month of May alone, largely due to street drugs being laced with the powerful pain killer Fentanyl. The Harper Conservatives, as tone deaf to the clear song of evidence as ever, refuse to support Supervised Injection Sites (SIS) where intravenous drug users can inject their drugs in clean, supervised surroundings. While not a panacea, these sites have been proven to reduce the number of overdoses and the transmission of diseases.

Tune: ”The Charm of a Maiden Singer“
Spring Thoughts
by Li Qingzhao

Slanting wind, misty rain
Once more assail a courtyard bleak and desolate.
The double-gate needs must be shut.
Favorite flowers, darling willows:
Cold Food Day approaches,
With unsettling weather in all its changing moods.
I finish a poem with difficult rhymes,
Sober up from the fumes of strong wine
With a queer sense of listlessness .
My multitude of thoughts—who will convey them
Now the wild geese have all winged out of sight?

Spring chill fills the upper rooms,
For days on end the curtains are drawn on all sides:
I am too languid to lean over the balustrade.
The incense burnt out, my quilts feel cold
As I wake from a new dream.
No dawdling in bed for one who comes to grief
When Spring is calling with all its diversions:
Young parasol-trees sprout new leaves;
Clear dew trickles in the first flush of dawn.
Now the sun is riding high, the fog withdraws.
Still I’d rather wait,
To see whether the day will really be fine.

Translated by Jiaosheng Wang.

李清照念奴娇
萧条庭院,又斜风细雨,重门须闭。宠柳娇花寒食近,种种恼人天气。险韵诗成,扶头酒醒,别是闲滋味。征鸿过尽,万千心事难寄。
楼上几日春寒,帘垂四面,玉阑干慵倚。被冷香消新梦觉,不许愁人不起。清露晨流,新桐初引,多少游春意。日高烟敛,更看今日晴未。

李清照念奴嬌
蕭條庭院,又斜風細雨,重門須閉。寵柳嬌花寒食近,種種惱人天氣。險韻詩成,扶頭酒醒,別是閒滋味。征鴻過盡,萬千心事難寄。
樓上幾日春寒,簾垂四面,玉闌干慵倚。被冷香消新夢覺,不許愁人不起。清露晨流,新桐初引,多少游春意。日高煙斂,更看今日晴未

Lǐ Qīngzhào niànnújiāo
Xiāotiáo tíngyuàn, yòu xié fēng xì yǔ, zhòng mén xū bì. Chǒng liǔjiāohuā hánshí jìn, zhǒngzhǒng nǎorén tiānqì. Xiǎn yùn shī chéng, fú tóu jiǔ xǐng, bié shì xián zīwèi. Zhēng hóng guò jǐn, wàn qiān xīnshì nán jì.
Lóu shàng jǐ rì chūnhán, lián chuí sìmiàn, yù lángān yōng yǐ . Bèi lěng xiāng xiāo xīn mèng jué, bùxǔ chóu rén bù qǐ. Qīng lù chén liú, xīn tóng chū yǐn , duōshǎo yóu chūnyì. Rì gāo yān liǎn , gèng kàn jīnrì qíng wèi

Li Qingzhao Remembrance/slave(girl)/lovable
Dejected/condition/court/yard, once again/slanting/wind/fine/rain, double/gate/must/close. Beloved/willow/tender/flowers/cold/food/near, type/type/annoy/people/weather. Dangerous/rhyme/verse/complete, hold in hand/head/wine/sober-up, must not/is/idle/taste/feeling. Journey/goose/pass by/ended. Ten-thousand/one-thousand/heart/affairs/difficult/to convey.
Building/upper/several/days/spring/cold, curtain/lowered/four/directions, jade/bannister/lethargic/lean on. Quilt/cold/incense/spent/new/dream/awaken, not/must/anxious/person/not/rise-up. Pure/dew/dawn/flow/willow, new/Tung tree/begin/lengthen, many/few/spring/thoughts. Sun/high/mist/hold back, still/look/now/day/fine/not yet.

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…”

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AIDS is the Age of Christ

(A sonnet to the God of Plague)

Now AIDS is the age of Christ
When he was scourged, crucified;
It has been thirty-three years
Since our skins first bloomed bruises—

Passion purpled—pain blossomed,
We began to die too young,
No chance of resurrection,
In our modern fairytales,

And if now we have some pills,
And it doesn’t kill—so quickly,
There remains the terrible
Memory of that reaping,

We see shadows hint at spaces
Where entire lives could have been.

AGG20140602

Depth Charge: 1981 is generally considered to mark the beginning of the onslaught of AIDS in North America because that is the year cases first appeared in the gay communities of New York and San Francisco, although we now know that the virus was present much earlier. There has been an upsurge in interest in this period with the documentaries How to Survive a Plague and We Were Here, and the film The Dallas Buyers Club, and the made-for-tv movie The Normal Heart all being released in the past couple of years. Criticism has been leveled at some of these works that they leave out important parts of the story, but I think that is because that period in history and the issues are so painful and complex that any single effort to encapsulate them will fail. It is best to take them all to together, if you can bear to. It is especially harrowing watching these works because we are still living with this virus in our midst 33 years later. As for the title, 33 years is popularly held to be the age at which Jesus Christ was crucified.

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You Are My Cosmos

To me you’re the moon:
A cold, lifeless piece of rock;
To me you’re the stars:
Distant and probably dead
Already—though you still shine.

AGG20140601

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…”