Wednesday, December 30, 2015

beautiful lady

beautiful lady

there is a beautiful lady, matchless,
who lives hidden away in a deserted valley;
she says she comes from an upright family:
stricken, fallen, she makes do among trees & grass—
when the rebels overran the frontier passes last year
her brothers met their end in a slaughter;
& their high rank did them no good:
she could not recover their corpses for burial

this world despises whatever’s had its day:
all things wavering as a lamp’s flame in wind—
her husband proved a capricious sort:
his new bride is lovely as jade;
a vetch knows to fold its leaves together at sunset
mandarin ducks don’t spend the night apart—
but as he heeds his new wife’s laughter,
how can he hear his old wife’s weeping?

a stream runs clear & pure from a mountain spring:
but once it falls from the heights its waters turn muddy—
her maidservant returns from selling pearls
& drags vines across the thatched roof to patch it—
the lady picks blossoms, but not to place in her hair;
& often she gathers handfuls of cypress—
the air is cold: her lustrous blue sleeves thin:
at sunset she leans against the frail bamboos

Jack Hayes & Sheila Graham Smith
© 2015
based on Du Fu:
jiā rén

Acknowledgment: Sheila Graham-Smith for her major contributions in research & editing

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons
Chrysanthemums and Bamboos: Xu Wei – 16th century
Public Domain

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