Fresh Wood (for Luo Xue)Wen Tianxiang (1236-1283)
A sigh, sigh sound from woods up high to low;
We close the gate and cover up with fur—
Spring feelings flow along the mountain gorge;
At dawn I rise to touch and look at her.
We live in drought
As summer sings to fall
My wandering clothes
Have filled with filth through all
A sunny view
Along the road I came
To pray for peace
On a night of calming rain
The rooftop tiles
Have washed with water’s lash
The rusted drains
Have carried off the ash
Along the harbor east
I walk as water flows
There’s someone else who knows
My heart is clear
As air begins to chill
Contains desires still
The moon has shadowed me, like stillborn air
Along a country road, adrift in threads,
Behind a worn out wheel, the pedals bare,
As time leaves nothing here but cast off dead.
I share these words with clouds in wind-washed treads,
Where rock-strewn shores in riddled dreams belie
And time has spun in tight a spider’s web
Of figures etched in deep the dusk-drawn sky.
With this in mind I set aside my clothes,
Now freshly pressed for travels lost, to where
The door is shut and all my business goes—
The sun goes up and soars on to the end
For me to chase somewhere beyond, alone;
Today I’m here to rest and meet a friend,
By dawn I’m off to seek a shore unknown.
It’s been near fifteen years without a rest
And now it seems the noise and crowds increase;
I’ll leave it soon and go perhaps out west,
The burdens gently boxed and left back east.
A western wind is blowing, wild and free,
Across the mountains, streams, and golden plains;
I’ll walk a trail of clouds to where they flee,
The snow clouds form a floating quill;
But though these woods are clear and bright,
Inside the town I feel it chill.
I shut my door, the sun begins to set.
In spring next year the grass will turn to green,
But if you’ll come back here, I know not yet.
Shān zhōng xiāng sòng bà，
Rì mù yǎn chái fēi。
Chūn cǎo nián nián lǜ，
Wáng sūn guī bù guī。
Literal Character Translation
Afar I row a little boat,
An island of song and show;
Ashore I leave a nighttime note
Of footsteps laid below.
For now it drizzles mist ahead,
Mixed in with dark night green;
I walk a path where willows tread,
A painted river scene.
I open the door and see a room
Of skirts in red and plum;
With girls a-sway and arms abloom,
The beating of a drum.
I watch until my bottle goes,
The noise will leave us soon;
Outside a child unfolds a rose,
Her soul beneath moon.
Today no toll in work or soul
As spring is green with ease;
In Central Park I make my mark
To see the cherry trees.
A bird lets out its welcome shout
Beneath the building glass;
The wind lets bare a woman’s hair
In lovely, flowing mass.
I know the moon will come out soon,
For now the sun’s on track;
I gaze at bluffs with cherry puffs,
Unwilling to go back.
Ten years ago I saw you on a beach
Beneath the empty sky, a silhouette
Of sun and sand, a dream within my reach
Beside a patch of dawn-lit grass still wet.
But in the great wide distance lies a dream
Mixed in with siren sounds that echo still,
A vow that’s found in clouds that rise from steam,
Like birds set free who sing beyond a hill.
Each day in lights and city streets,
Construction sounds that crack the air;
Or horns that break in crazy beats
At roadblocks halting everywhere.
I seek somewhere a patch of grass
Beyond a thousand concrete bridges,
A place where I shall pass
A skyline filled with mountain ridges.
But now the air is lit with steam,
The smoky mist pours in and out—
My soul’s a silent, washed-out dream,
A city asleep and filled with doubt.