The Luxury: A Response to “Bowl of Green Jade”, Attributed to LI Qingzhao

子曰:「學而時習之,不亦說乎?有朋自遠方來,不亦樂乎?人不知而不慍,不亦君子乎?」
The Master said, “Is it not pleasant to learn with a constant perseverance and application? Is it not delightful to have friends coming from distant quarters? Is he not a man of complete virtue, who feels no discomposure though men may take no note of him?”
Confucius, The Analects, Translated by James Legge

The leaves fell for you
One final time—red and gold
Fifteen years later
Red and gold—falling again
Do you think they remember?

Now a southern wind
Moistens all the fallen leaves
A tropical storm
Awake at night I listen
To its final tears streaming

The most dramatic
Season—beginning in heat
Ending with the frost—
The fall is only one-third
Over—bare branches creaking

Tonight I will share
Food with a mutual friend
In from out of town
As always we’ll talk of you
And then slip into silence

It’s a luxury
Really to have someone else
To share memories
Of the dead—I pity those
Who talk only to tombstones

AGG20151030

Tune: Bowl of Green Jade

Spring’ s glory-how far is it advanced?
Two-thirds already gone.
Lush foliage deep in verdure,
Red blossoms all smiles:
Are barely passable.
A courtyard shadowy under weeping willows,
A room with curtains brushed by warm breeze:
Here’s someone withering away!

A riot of flowers on sale for my choosing
I ride through the streets of Chang’an, wine my freight—
What are these beside the peach and plum of my native hills?
Blame not the east wind bringing tears to a wanderer’s eyes!
Nostalgic feelings are hard to express;
Cherished dreams—a mere illusion.
What can I do but return to my home town?

Translated by Jiaosheng Wang.

Depth Charge: This poem is almost everywhere attributed to Ouyang Xiu, not Li Qingzhao.

青玉案欧阳修
一年春事都来几,早过了、三之二。绿暗红嫣浑可事。绿杨庭院,暖风廉幕,有个人憔悴。
买花载酒长安市,又争似、家山见桃李。不枉东风吹客泪。相思难表,梦魂无据,惟有归来是。

Qīng yù àn Ouyáng Xiū
Yī niánchūn shì dōu lái jǐ , zǎoguòle, sān zhī èr . Lǜ àn hóng yān hún kě shì . Lǜ yáng tíngyuàn, nuǎn fēng lián mù, yǒu gèrén qiáocuì.
Mǎi huā zài jiǔ cháng’ān shì , yòu zhēng sì, jiāshān jiàn táolǐ . Bù wǎng dōngfēng chuī kè lèi . Xiāngsī nán biǎo, mèng hún wú jù, wéiyǒu guīlái shì .

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The Spider: A Response to “Bodhisattva’s Gold Headdress,” Attributed to Li Qingzhao

The pale spider on a silver thread
Descends from the ceiling into clouds
Of dust—all the dust of would and could
And should—grey on grey and grey.
Its eight slender legs pick a delicate,
Noteless melody towards the bed,
There, only two days dust has settled,
All sudden motion having ceased at that time.
The spider crosses the newfound stillness
Enshrouded in twisted, layered sheets,
As a strange perfume fills the shuttered room,
Soon—very soon—the only world it’s known
Will be gone, swept away with all the grey
Dust of would and could and should.

AGG20151026

Depth Charge: For my translation of the original poem attributed to Li Qingzhao, see here.

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First Fuck

On a day the sun
Was shining at the same time
As snow was falling
Alongside red and gold leaves
Newly naked as the trees

AGG20151022

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A Sonnet for a Scum-Sucking Arsehole

A Sonnet for a Scum-Sucking Arsehole
(Good riddance to some smelly S.H.it. )

So long you evil, scum-sucking arsehole.
Now that the electorate’s finally
Been roused enough to give your ass the boot,
Apologists say that you did some good,
But I say that’s utter fucking bullSHit.
I’ll remember you as the kind of man
Who belittled the suffering of all
Missing and Murdered Aboriginal
Women, who stripped away our protections
On the rivers, lakes and water to sell
It all to the highest foreign bidder—
Weapons and the Wheat Board to the Saudis—
A tough guy—no, just a whipped cur crooning
Corporate-cover songs from the closet.

AGG20151019

Depth Charge: What it lacks in rhyme, it makes up for in reason.

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Translation: “Bodhisattva’s Gold Headdress, ” attributed to Li Qingzhao

“Bodhisattva’s Gold Headdress”
Attributed to Li Qingzhao
Translated by Andrew Grimes Griffin

Golden sparrows fly above clouds of dark hair,
Worried eyebrows hold back pale spring’s  thin mists.
Hibiscus fragrance suffuses the closed chamber,
Screened off by layers of receding mountains.

Shuttered in by cold weather she longs for daybreak,
Still bound up  like lettuce leaves around its tender heart.
Tears streak her clothing with face powder,
She asks which day will see his return?

Translated by AGG20151015

Depth charge: Again, a poem of questionable provenance, but attributed to Li Qingzhao in the book that I am using as the basis for this project, and again there is no existing English translation that I could locate, so I am forced to do my own.

菩萨蛮·李清照
绿云鬓上飞金雀⑴,愁眉敛翠春烟薄。香阁掩芙蓉,画屏山几重。
窗寒天欲曙,犹结同心苣⑵。啼粉污罗衣⑶,问郎何日归?

Púsà mán·lǐqīngzhào
lǜ yúnbìn shàng fēi jīn què ⑴, chóuméi liǎn cuì chūn yān báo. Xiāng gé yǎn fúróng, huà píngshān jǐ zhòng.
Chuāng hántiān yù shǔ, yóu jié tóngxīn jù ⑵. Tí fěn wū luō yī ⑶, wèn láng hé rì guī?

Bodhisattva/headdress/ Li Qingzhao
Green-cloud[Dark clouds-said of the abundant hair of a beautiful woman]/hair on temples/above/fly/gold/sparrows[here indicating hair ornaments], worry/eyebrow/restrain/jade green/spring/mist/indifferent. Incense/boudoir/closed/hibiscus, picture/screen/mountain/several/layers.
Shutter/cold/weather/desire/daybreak, still/bind/concentric/lettuce [also entwined double wick, pattern on clothing and common wishes]. To weep/powder/defile/gauze/clothing, ask/young gentleman/which/day/return?

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Busker

The young man slouches
Pulsating across his chest
The accordion
A perfect agreement moves
His voice and the raspy reeds

AGG20151015

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A Fool’s Game: A Response to “New Jade Candle” by Zhou Bangyan, attributed to Li Qingzhao

Lilac apple catalpa
Half-covered in fresh fallen
Snow—white on—white on—
My head’s an impossible
Conjunction of blooms

The Saint Lawrence slowly flows
Into the Yangtze River
Mount Royal rises
Beneath the Purple Mountain
Our arms are empty

Here—now—red and gold
Huddle randomly in drifts
At the wind’s mercy
Remembering’s a fool’s game
Sticking leaves back on the trees

AGG20151012

Depth Charge: Another poem universally attributed to Zhou Bangyan (Chou Pang-yen), yet included in the collection of Li Qingzhao poetry that I am using as a basis for this project. My translation of Zhou Bangyan’s poem may be found here,  Fittingly enough, my response deals with the inevitability of misremembering and misplacement.

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Translation: Zhou Bangyan’s “New Jade Candle”

By the stream after the month of dried meat and fish,
She saw bunches of river plum, and immediately began to trim them.
Building a bouquet from fragrant silk blossoms—
x     Confused and delicate,
x      Divulging her desires.
Last night in front of the village, in the yellowing dusk,
x      She longed to play with the moon.
The lonely bank steep, striped with shadows,
x     Pungent, hidden fragrances moistened her lapel and sleeves.
She lays her findings before the wine vessel,
Asking the distant mountains,
If they’ve heard anything about his return.
x     The aged sun pretends to struggle.
In the end he does not appear,
x     The river is a mere sliver of light.
x     A tender wind is graced with rain.
She randomly sticks the branches into her hair,
    Her head becomes a profusion of blossoms.
She must have faith, suppressing her sadness,
She reads the petition to the Emperor
x     Over and over again.

Translated by AGG20151009

Depth Charge: Another poem universally attributed to Zhou Bangyan (Chou Pang-yen), yet included in the collection of Li Qingzhao poetry that I am using as a basis for this project. On first encounter, I despaired of making heads or tails out of this poem; however, in my unsuccessful search for an English translation, I came across James Hightower’s article, “The Songs of Chou Pang-yen,” and his that statement the the best of Zhou Bangyan’s poems have “a narrative line that serves as a tenuous thread on which nuances of feeling are developed.” This caused the poem to form in my head, although my choice of pronoun, and the interpretation of some obscure phrases, should be regarded as nothing more than personal whimsy.

玉烛新 周邦彦

溪源新腊后。
见数朵江梅,剪裁初就。
晕酥砌玉芳英嫩,故把春心轻漏。
前村昨夜,想弄月,黄昏时候。
孤岸峭,疏影横斜,浓香暗沾襟袖。
尊前赋与多材,问岭外风光,故人知否。
寿阳谩斗。
终不似,照水一枝清瘦。
风娇雨秀。
好乱插,繁花盈首。
须信道,羌管无情,看看又奏。

Yù zhú xīn Zhōu Bāngyàn

xī yuán xīn là hòu.
Jiàn shù duǒ jiāng méi, jiǎncái chū jiù.
Yūn sū qì yù fāngyīng nèn, gù bǎ chūnxīn qīng lòu.
Qián cūn zuóyè, xiǎng nòng yuè, huánghūn shíhòu.
Gū àn qiào, shū yǐng héng xié, nóng xiāng àn zhān jīn xiù.
Zūn qián fù yǔ duō cái, wèn lǐng wài fēngguāng, gùrén zhī fǒu.
Shòu yáng mán dòu.
Zhōng bù shì, zhào shuǐ yīzhī qīngshòu.
Fēng jiāo yǔ xiù.
Hǎo luàn chā, fánhuā yíng shǒu.
Xū xìndào, xiāng guǎn wúqíng, kàn kàn yòu zòu.

Jade/candle/new Zhou Bangyan

Stream/source/new/12th Month/after.
See/many/bunches/river/plum, cut/trim/at first/right away.
Confused/silken/build by laying bricks/jade/fragrant/blossoms/delicate, therefore/hold/spring/feelings/gentle/divulge.
In front of/village/last night,want/to play with/moon, dusk/time.
Lonely/bank/high and steep, sparse/shadows/slanting/oblique, strong/pungent/hidden/moisten/lapel/sleeve.
Wine vessel/before/bestow/many/material, ask/mountain ridge/outside/landscape, old friend, know. not.
Old-age/sun/decieve/struggle.
End/not/appear, illuminate/river/one/branch/clear/thin.
Wind/delicate/rain/graceful.
Well/well/confusion/insert, flourishing/blossoms/full/head.
Must/trust/way,alone/cope/without/feeling, examine/again/memorial to the Emperor.

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