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.

Guo AndeTo 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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Seven Years Later in Parc Laurier: A Response to Li Qingzhao’s “Sand Washed by Waves”

As letters to words are years to memories,
Seven years today since I quit China,
Right on cue the summer’s first cicada sings,
Pestering with his wordless longing,
Asking what it is we’ve done with his precious time,
Well, I’ve  seen a whole lot of circuses,
Written well over six hundred poems,
Had sex with maybe half as many men,
All these various acrobatic routines swerve
Beauty from what was and never can be,
But I’ll leave it to the crows in Parc Laurier
To dispute over things delicious and dead.
These days when I turn my head,
It isn’t the Yangtze or Purple Gold Mountain I see
It is Mount Royal with the Saint Lawrence at its feet.

AGG20150710

Tune: “Sand Washed by Waves”
In Memoriam
by Li Qingzhao

Outside the curtains the howling fifth-watch wind
Blows away the last vestige of my melancholy dream.
Who will be my companion
When I go up the painted tower again?
I remember how he loved to chaff me
Poking the fire sideways with my jade hairpin—
A memory now vanished like the auspicious omen
In the seal-character incense.

Recollections flood my mind
Of happy days gone by
When the two of us climbed Purple Gold peak① hand in hand
Gazing at the hazy view below:
A river of spring waves wrapped in rain and mist ,
Gliding away as if half-sober and half-tipsy.
I keep on my garment
Tears shed the day before–
To shoot to the wild geese
As they wing past.

①Presumably an allusion to the Purple Gold Hill (Zhi Jin Shan ) on the south shore of the Yangtze River in today’s city of Nanjing.

Translated by Jiaosheng Wang.

浪淘沙·李清照
帘外五更风,吹梦无踪。画楼重上与谁同?记得玉钗斜拨火,宝篆成空。
回首紫金峰,雨润烟浓。一江春浪醉醒中。留得罗襟前日泪,弹与征鸿。

Làng táo shā Lǐ Qīngzhào
lián wài wǔ gēng fēng, chuī mèng wú zōng. Huà lóu zhòng shàng yǔ shuí tóng ? Jìdé yù chāi xié bō huǒ , bǎo zhuàn chéng kōng .
Huíshǒu zǐjīn fēng , yǔ rùn yān nóng . Yī jiāng chūnlàng zuì xǐng zhōng. Liú dé luō jīn qiánrì lèi , dàn yǔ zhēng hóng .

Depth Charge: The photo is of the circus performance Duels which was part of Completement Cirque 2015.

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…”

Another Winter: A Response to Li Qingzhao’s “Immortal on the Riverbank”

Another winter
Silent snow so deep deep deep
Mechanical beasts
Rearranging it each night
Unseen outside my window

And so fucking what
If I’ve reached my middle age
No accomplishments
Age alcohol AIDS despair
Failed to put me in my grave

Meanwhile in Nanjing
Is there any snow at all?
The Year of the Ram
Will soon lantern your nighttime
Even if we can’t share it

Here snow is deep deep
Deep crystallized memories
I often walk with them
My tears become a language
Frozen by the bitter winds

That in thawing come the spring
The unwitting birds will sing

AGG20150203
for MKL

Tune : “lmmortal On The Riverbank” Spring Returns
By Li Qingzhao

Prefatory Note. The Venerable Sir Ouyang, in his “Butterflies Lingering Over Flowers”, has the line “Deep, how profoundly deep the courtyard is!” I very much admire it, and have composed a few rhymes beginning with the same words, the tune being the traditional “Immortal On the Riverbank.”

Deep, how profoundly deep the courtyard is!
Its rooms and casements
Perpetually locked in mist and cloud.
Willow sprouts and plum buds begin to show
As spring brings a new lease of life
To the trees of Mo Ling⑴,
Where I am fated to live out my little sojourn.

How many times we chanted verses together
On moonlit evenings leaning against the spring breeze!
Who cares I am now withering with age,
Alone and with nothing accomplished?
No point in pre-views of lanterns, ⑵
No mood to go treading the snow. ⑶

⑴Mo Ling and Jian Kang were ancient names for today’s city of Nanjing.
⑵ This alludes to the Song custom of visiting shows of festive lanterns before the Lantern Festival was celebrated on the Fifteenth Day of the First Month in the lunar year.
⑶ The poet recalls happy days in the past when she vent with her husband for walks in the snow composing verses impromptu.

Translated by Jiaosheng Wang.
临江仙·李清照

欧阳公作《蝶恋花》,有“深深深几许”之句,予酷爱之。用其语作“庭院深深”数阕,其声即旧《临江仙》也。

庭院深深深几许,云窗雾阁常扃。柳梢梅萼渐分明。春归秣陵树,人老建康城。
感月吟风多少事,如今老去无成。谁怜憔悴更凋零。试灯无意思,踏雪没心情。

Lín jiāng xiān · Lǐ Qīngzhào

Ouyáng gōng zuò “dié liàn huā”, yǒu “shēn shēn shēn jǐxǔ” zhī jù, yǔ
kù’ài zhī. Yòng qí yǔ zuò “tíngyuàn shēn shēn” shù què, qí shēng jí jiù
“lín jiāng xiān” yě.

Tíngyuàn shēn shēn shēn jǐxǔ? Yún chuāng wù gé cháng jiōng. Liǔ shāo méi è jiàn fēnmíng. Chūn guī mòlíng shù, rén lǎo jiàn kāng chéng.
Gǎn yuè yín fēng duōshǎo shì, rújīn lǎo qù wú chéng. Shuí lián qiáocuì gèng diāolíng. Shì dēng wú yìsi, tà xuě méi xīnqíng.

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 Yet Another Li Qingzhao “Partridge Sky”

A thing delicate, tiny,
Hidden and largely unseen,

Each autumn the cassia
blooms with unforgettable

Scent filling
The darkened
Rooms, sequestered places where

Our love—fragile and doomed—
Dying breathed for us new lives.

AGG20140710
(for MKL, on the 6th anniversary of our parting)

Tune: “Partridge Sky”
To the Cassia Flower
by Li Qingzhao

Fair Flower !
Dark, pale, light yellow in color,
Soft and gentle by nature.
Aloof and remote,
A subtle fragrance trails behind you.
What need for light green or deep crimson,
You choicest of flowers!

Let plum blossoms be envious,
Chrysanthemums be ashamed !
You are crowned Queen of Mid-autumn
At the Grand Exhibition of Flowers.
How unfeeling of the poet Qu Yuan ①
To be so cold towards you
As to deny you a place
In his masterpiece.

①  An allusion to Li Sao (Encountering Sorrow), a chapter in Qu Yuan’s “The Elegies of Chu”, in which he listed many precious flowers and plants as symbolic of men of high virtue, but omitted to mention the cassia flower, presumably out of bias.

Translated by Jiaosheng Wang.

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

李清照鹧鸪天桂花
暗淡轻黄体性柔,情疏迹远只香留。何须浅碧深红色,自是花中第一流。
梅定妒,菊应羞,画栏开岁冠中秋。骚人可煞无情思,何事当年不见收。

李清照鷓鴣天桂花
暗淡輕黃體性柔,情疏跡遠只香留。何須淺碧深紅色,自是花中第一流。
梅定妒,菊應羞,畫欄開歲冠中秋。騷人可煞無情思,何事當年不見收。

Lǐqīngzhào Zhègū tiān Guìhuā
àndàn qīng huángtǐ xìng róu, qíng shū jī yuǎn zhǐ xiāng liú. Héxū qiǎn bì shēn hóngsè, zì shì huā zhōng dì yīliú.
Méi dìng dù, jú yīng xiū, huà lán kāi suì guān zhōngqiū . Sāorén kě shā wúqíng sī, héshì dāngnián bùjiàn shōu .

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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…”

Sweet Paulownia by Michael Leon

Sweet Pawlonia
Music and Lyrics by Michael Leon

Sweet Pawlonia blooms in spring
You and I’ve been through some things
The Sweetest blossoms never last too long
December flowers are cool and rare
crystals blooming in your hair
You were here and now you’re gone

Chorus:
You can cut me down and make me bleed
I’m gonna rise like that phoenix – watch me
Just you wait and see
Days may be dark and nights too long
And this might be a sad sad song
Pawlonia will always smell sweet to me

Met her on a Saturday
She drove all that gloom away
I thought my life was finally turnin’ around
But life is long and times got hard
And she and I we had to part
Misery lost is so easily found

Chorus

A hermit’s life may be for some
And maybe I should be all done
Some live and learn, but maybe I just don’t
Fresh growth will drive winter’s pall away
And maybe next time she will stay
I’ll hold on to her or I won’t

Chorus

12 December 4 Paulownia 12 December 3 Paulownia 12 December 1 Paulownia 12 December 2 Paulownia

This year for my birthday we are having fun with Hanafuda and Tarot cards.

150px-RWS_Tarot_09_Hermit

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

Barb Lougheed's Death Collage -- Detail

A detail from the Death Collage by Barb Lougheed.

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…”

Paulownia and The Empress: Eavan

12 December 4 Paulownia 12 December 3 Paulownia 12 December 1 Paulownia 12 December 2 Paulownia

Strange to think we walked
Where the phoenix came to rest
Under wutong trees
Now thick smog conceals the sun
Does the river still run there?

AGG20140303
(for Eavan)

Depth Charge: About what was then called Jinling and is now called Nanjing, Li Bai wrote: “Here once on Phoenix Terrace the phoenix birds came to rest, now the birds are gone, the tower empty, only the river flows aimlessly on.”

This year for my birthday we are having fun with Hanafuda and Tarot cards.

Tarot_03_Empress

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

Year of the Horse 2014

Nanjing wutong trees Jan  2008

Remember the night
Beside the old city walls
We briefly held hands
As the city exploded
With thunder and smoke and love

The snow was strangely
Heavy on our final year
Together—we walked
Under the bare wutong trees
Now dressed in funeral white

Six long years have passed
And a seventh one begins
With this dark new moon
Imperceptible as you
On the far side of the world

AGG20140130
(for MKL)

Depth Charge: For all the writing featuring Nanjing, click here.