Thursday, May 22, 2008

Li: jade engenders smoke


The ornamented zither, for no reason, has fifty strings.
Each string, each bridge, recalls a youthful year.
Master Chuang was confused by his morning dream of the butterfly;
Emperor Wang's amorous heart in spring is entrusted to the cuckoo.
In the vast sea, under a bright moon, pearls have tears;
On Indigo Mountain, in the warm sun, jade engenders smoke.
This feeling might have become a thing to be remembered,
Only, at the time you were already bewildered and lost.

Li Shang-yin (812-858) The Ornamented Zither
Trans. Eugene Eoyang and Irving Y. Lo
In Wu-chi Liu & Irving Y. Lo (ed.), Sunflower Splendor
(Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1975), p. 240