Fallen Flowers

This wind will weave
   The cry of howling thieves
As calming rain
   Unfolds on golden grain
A thousand sheaves
   A million fallen leaves
And still these plains
   Will fill with bamboo canes
Copyright (c) 2016 by Frank Watson. Loosely translated from Lu Shiheng’s “花落.”

Anchored at Jiande River

Meng Haoran
This anchored boat’s astir in fog and breeze,
As sunset rends my fears up once again,
But as the sky descends beneath the trees,
The river, moon, and quiet become my friends.


A Country Road

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—


Meandering above the asphalt streets,
The autumn moon lights vendor stalls;
From dawn to dusk the city beats
A song beyond Manhattan’s walls.
Across this land the Rocky Mountains
Conceal the trees and western sand,
But here another day begins,
Anxieties and troubles at hand.
The sky grows gray with tiny mist
That washes the building glass;
But clouds across the plains persist
To drizzle wet the newborn grass.
A clear breeze blows the fog away
To stretch it out like feathered sky;


A poor man on a tiny plot
Imagines beyond the forest green;
No words of the wise can mend his lot,
He bears the burden as if a dream.
He plants his field and tends for autumn,
Singing a song of the land he sows,
And though he starves he’s never solemn,
Awaiting each morning the cry of crows.
One day he walks along the eastern bay
And spreads his oars beyond the shore;
Floating with the tide, he flits away
Until returning to land once more.
How sweet this densely hidden land

Gazing at the Snow Peak of Zhongnan

Above the mountain dark and deep
The snow clouds form a floating quill;
But though these woods are clear and bright,
Inside the town I feel it chill.

Bamboo Retreat

Alone, I sit serene within a bamboo grove,
At ease, I strum the lute and hum a song.
Unknown into the forest deep I’ll rove
Until the shining moon has sung along.
Zhú Lǐ Guǎn
Dú zuò yōu huáng lǐ,
Dàn qín fù cháng xiào。
Shēn lín rén bù zhī,
Míng yuè lái xiāng zhào。
Literal Character Translation

Idle Spring

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.

​Springtime in Central Park

In Central Park the cherries begin to bloom
On a sun-drenched day when birds have left their notes
For us, intruders inside their sanctuary moats,
Unseen but heard in the shadows where the branches loom.
I walk a narrow path that’s filled with wood chips,
Fine grass and leaves enveloping the way,
Creeping past and among the gates on which they play
In the wind like the smiles on a thousand lips.
Deep within the trees there is a shelter
Where all the park unfolds its jagged edges
And there I rest in the mid-day swelter

Morning Meditation

This morning the sky imparted its will
On spring, on summer, when all around
Is rain and mist, and darkness still,
Distilled for a moment in the river’s sound.
These years I’ve buried my head in books
Have come and gone with the green dawn air;
Last night I walked by the brimming brooks
And left a song as I passed on there.  

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