As Fall Begins, I Look Within

As Fall Begins, I Look Within

Li Yi (746-829)
 
 
Ten thousand fears have come to fix my life,
As on this mirrored shore I gaze uneased—
Here all I see has turned my temples white
And now it’s time to face the autumn breeze.
 
 
Chinese
 
立秋前一日覽鏡
李益
 
萬事銷身外
生涯在鏡中
唯將滿鬢雪
明日對秋風
Pronunciation
 
Lì Qiū Qián Yī Rì Lǎn Jìng

Harbor

along the harbor
where green sea goes gray
on an autumn day
 
as it’s turned half winter
now in the sun
and the pairs form
 
of cold light and mannequins
that mouth out with their frozen lips
of something yet to come

Two Portraits

You say, as one who shapes a life,
That you will never be a wife,

And, laughing lightly, ask my aid
To paint your future as a maid.

This is the portrait; and I take
The softest colors for your sake:

The springtime of your soul is dead,
And forty years have bent your head;

The lines are firmer round your mouth,
But still its smile is like the South.

Your eyes, grown deeper, are not sad,
Yet never more than gravely glad;

And the old charm still lurks within


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To Walt Whitman In America

Send but a song oversea for us,
Heart of their hearts who are free,
Heart of their singer, to be for us
More than our singing can be;
Ours, in the tempest at error,
With no light but the twilight of terror;
Send us a song oversea!

Sweet-smelling of pine-leaves and grasses,
And blown as a tree through and through
With the winds of the keen mountain-passes,
And tender as sun-smitten dew;
Sharp-tongued as the winter that shakes
The wastes of your limitless lakes,


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To Whom It May Concern

In Autumn,
as in Spring,
the sap flows,
the sap wishes to race
against heartbeats
before the winter,
before the winter
buries us
in her usual shroud of ice.

I turn to you
knowing that
unrequited love
is good
for poetry,
knowing that pain
will nudge the muse
as well as anything,
knowing that you
are afraid, fettered
to a life
you do not love,
& so unfree
that freedom seems
more fearful even
than the familiar
business


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To the Tune of

The fragrance of the pink lotus
fails, the jade mat hints of autumn.
Softly I unfasten my silk cloak,
Who is sending a letter from
among the clouds?
When the swan message returns,
the balcony is flooded with moonlight.

The blossoms drift on, the water flows.
There is the same yearning of the heart,
But it abides in two places.
There is no way to drive away this yearning:
Driven from the eyebrows,
It enters the heart.


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To Sarah

I

One happy year has fled, Sall,
Since you were all my own,
The leaves have felt the autumn blight,
The wintry storm has blown.
We heeded not the cold blast,
Nor the winter's icy air;
For we found our climate in the heart,
And it was summer there.

II

The summer's sun is bright, Sall,
The skies are pure in hue;
But clouds will sometimes sadden them,
And dim their lovely blue;
And clouds may come to us, Sall,
But sure they will not stay;


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