Thursday, November 19, 2015

After Li Bai’s “Cháng xiāng sī”

After Li Bai’s “cháng xiāng sī”


eternal longing
in the city called eternal peace
crickets weave autumn weeping by the gold-railed well,
frost clings to my bamboo mat—bitter, bitter cold—tints it wintry
this single lantern flickers; I want to extinguish thoughts,
& roll back the curtain & look at the moon—my sighs hollow—
the beautiful one’s a blossom far off past the edge of clouds
above is the black expanse of lofty heavens
below is the green water with breakers & floods
the heavens endless, the road remote, my spirit’s flight bitter—
the dream spirit won’t arrive, the mountain pass rises arduous
eternal longing 
my heart laid waste

Jack Hayes © 2015
based on Li Bai’s Cháng xiāng sī 长相思

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons
The Mount Huashan in Xi'an [Xi’an is modern Chang’an—i.e., the city named “endless peace”, which is what Chang’an means]: photo by Flickr user Darren On The Road who has made it available under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

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