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This is one of four untitled poems written by Li Shang Yin. These are some of his most challenging and beautiful poems. They are very evocative, as he suggests just enough of a storyline to clue us in to his meaning. And some of the language is drop dead beautiful, in Chinese certainly, and I hope to some extent it comes through in translation. Consider the final couplet of this poem for example.


Untitled -- II
by Li Shang Yin


A misty rain arrives
And the east wind rustles
The lotus on the pond
To the roll of distant thunder

Enter the garden
Through the golden lock
Like a wisp of smoke
Where the jade tiger sits
Tethered by a silky rope
That draws from the well

The golden toad
Swallows the lock
On the garden gate
Through which the incense
Smoke drifts forth freely

As the mainden peers
From behind the screen
At the blundering clerk
So too the concubine
Leaves her pillow
For Prince Wei
With his broken heart

The harder two hearts' strive
The less often love's blossoms
Are shared together
For every inch of longing
Comes another inch of dust



无题 (2nd of 4)

飒飒东风细雨来
芙蓉塘外有轻雷

金蟾啮锁烧香入
玉虎牵丝汲井回
贾氏窥帘韩掾少
宓妃留枕魏王才
春心莫共花争发
一寸相思一寸灰




More poems by Li Shang Yin translated by Lan Hua: