I have sailed the River of Yellow Flowers,

Wang Wei

A GREEN STREAM

I have sailed the River of Yellow Flowers,

Borne by the channel of a green stream,

Rounding ten thousand turns through the mountains

On a journey of less than thirty miles….

Rapids hum over heaped rocks;

But where light grows dim in the thick pines,

The surface of an inlet sways with nut-horns

And weeds are lush along the banks.

…Down in my heart I have always been as pure

As this limpid water is….

Oh, to remain on a broad flat rock

And to cast a fishing-line forever!

 

 


Wang Wei

A FARM-HOUSE ON THE WEI RIVER

 

In the slant of the sun on the country-side,

Cattle and sheep trail home along the lane;

And a rugged old man in a thatch door

Leans on a staff and thinks of his son, the herdboy.

There are whirring pheasants? full wheat-ears,

Silk-worms asleep, pared mulberry-leaves.

And the farmers, returning with hoes on their shoulders,

Hail one another familiarly.

…No wonder I long for the simple life

And am sighing the old song, Oh, to go Back Again!

 

 


 

Wang Wei

THE BEAUTIFUL XI SHI

 

Since beauty is honoured all over the Empire,

How could Xi Shi remain humbly at home? —

Washing clothes at dawn by a southern lake —

And that evening a great lady in a palace of the north:

Lowly one day, no different from the others,

The next day exalted, everyone praising her.

No more would her own hands powder her face

Or arrange on her shoulders a silken robe.

And the more the King loved her, the lovelier she looked,

Blinding him away from wisdom.

…Girls who had once washed silk beside her

Were kept at a distance from her chariot.

And none of the girls in her neighbours’ houses

By pursing their brows could copy her beauty.


Meng Haoran

ON CLIMBING ORCHID MOUNTAIN

IN THE AUTUMN TO ZHANG

 

On a northern peak among white clouds

You have found your hermitage of peace;

And now, as I climb this mountain to see you,

High with the wildgeese flies my heart.

The quiet dusk might seem a little sad

If this autumn weather were not so brisk and clear;

I look down at the river bank, with homeward-bound villagers

Resting on the sand till the ferry returns;

There are trees at the horizon like a row of grasses

And against the river’s rim an island like the moon

I hope that you will come and meet me, bringing a basket of wine

And we’ll celebrate together the Mountain Holiday.