The peonies of late-spring,
So many dying strangers
Who extend exquisite doom,
Standing proud on arching stems,
Resin-coated, soon to bloom,
x A squander of bright petals,
x The sun caresses the moon,
x Under moonshine flowers bloom,
x Beneath flowers lies dark soil,
x Fragrant rusting of the dead,
Ancient couplets, ancient songs,
x Spiral always from within,
x Squalling, squawking, mandibles,
x Squeaking, buzzing, flying things
x Talking, talking, talk, talk, talk…
x Fucking, fucking, fuck, fuck, fuck…
Again rising just to drop.
Depth Charge: For more on peonies. Photo by Eileen Lavery.
Lǐ Qīngzhào qìng qīngcháo màn
Jìn wò dī zhāng , tóng lán qiǎo hù , jiù zhōng dúzhàn cán chūn. Róng huá dàn zhù, chuòyuē jù jiàn tiānzhēn . Dài dé qún huā guòhòu, yī fān fēng lù xiǎo zhuāng xīn. Yāoráo yàn tài, dù fēng xiào yuè, zhǎng tì dōng jūn .
Dōngchéng biān, nán mò shàng, zhèng rì hōng chí guǎn, jìngzǒu xiāng lún. Qǐ yán sàn rì , shéi rén kě jì fāng chén . Gèng hǎo míngguāng gōngdiàn , jǐ zhī xiān jìnrì biān yún . Jīn zūn dào, pànle jǐn zhú, bùguǎn huánghūn.
Tune: “Celebrating the Clear Serene Dawn”
To the Late Peony
by Li Qingzhao
Usurper of the last days of spring,
Canopied by low palace curtains,
Protected by exquisite crimson railing;
Nature’s very image untrammelled by art!
Let all other flowers hide away!
To you alone the dewy breeze of morn does bring
A hundred charms after your early toilet –
Envied by the wind and laughing at the moon,
Enough to make the God of Spring fall in love with you,
Ever reluctant to depart.
Perfumed carriages jostle one and all,
Through the southern streets,
To where sunshine bathes Brookside Hall①
East of the city wall.
Who can succeed you when you become fragrant dust,
The banqueting once over?
Let all the golden cups be drained,
All the candles gutter out,
And yellow twilight fall unheeded in the west!
But miss not your boughs
Nestling beside the Palace of Brilliance, ②
By the sun③ first softly caressed.
①Presumably a popular resort to which people of rank
and wealth flocked t o enjoy shows of r a r e flowers and
②A luxurious palace b u i l t in t h e reign of Emperor Yu of
the Han Dynasty, reputed for its walls inlaid with pearls
and its staircases and doors shining with gold, the whole
palace being a blaze of light even on a dark night.
③A pun meaning both royalty and the sun.
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