On the Lake Near the Western Mountains

Here at the foothills of the Western Mountains
My boat rides idly on the current's trail,
And in the lengthening radiance of the sunset
It seems to chase its own reflected sail.

While in the rarer light that heralds evening
The forms of all things clearer seem to grow;
The forests and the glades and mountain ranges
Catch added beauty from the afterglow.

The graceful minarets in cloudland floating
From jadestone green take on a sombre hue,
But still flush rose tints in the darkness falling,
Although the sun has disappeared from view.

The shadows of the islands and the islets
Stretch far across the surface of the lake;
The evening mists that float above the waters
Are bright as rain-clouds after showers break.

In the distance Tsu's abounding forests
Reveal their sombre outlines in the gloom;
While on the farther shore the gates of Kingchow
Within the growing darkness faintly loom.

The atmosphere with nightfall groweth clearer,
A north wind blows with shrill voice through the land;
While on the sandy stretches by the waters
The swan and stork in dreamy silence stand.

The waters now have ceased from restless heaving,
My little boat is screened by rushes green;
The moon emerging from the lake's horizon
A soft light sheds upon the silent scene.

Amid the silence and the ghostly beauty
I touch my lute to plaintive songs of old,
And soon the pleasant strains and long-drawn cadence
Have seized my senses in their subtle hold.

Thus in such ecstasy the hours pass quickly,
And midnight comes with undetected speed;
But now the heavy dew upon me falling
Recalls my senses to the body's need.

Ah me! my body's but a fragile vessel
Upon the ever-moving sea of life,
Where light and shade and fitful joys and sorrows
Control me in their everchanging strife.
Author of original: 
Zhang Qian
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