In the springs of your eyes
Live the Madsea fishermen’s nets.
In the springs of your eyes
The sea keeps its promise.

Here, as a heart
That abode among humans,
I throw off my clothes and the glare of an oath.

Blacker in black, am I more naked.
Apostate only am I true.
I am you, when I am I.

In the springs of your eyes
I drift on and dream of spoils.

A net snared a net:
Embracing we sever.

In the springs of your eyes
A hanged man strangles the rope.

– Paul Celan. Praise of Distance

translated by John Felstiner



Moonwaves traverse the heavens, heaven’s vault is sodden.
Cool Toad sets, spent. A smattering of stars descend.

Still screen of shimmering cloud, concealing a desolate face.
All night, at the western tower, the wind chimes, anxious.

A wish to weave longing into flowers, send them into distance.
Days of longing. Yet, rancor.

Only listen to the Northern Dipper, winding in orbit.
Unseen, Long River’s astral waters, clear and shallow.

Red laurel spring closed with a golden fish lock.
Ancient dust fills the bed of a pair of mandarin ducks.

Worth grieving, how a little garden becomes the long road.
A jade tree is merciless to the exile.

Jasper zither quietly hiding the alleyways of Chu.
Yue gauze is cold, slight. Its gold embroidery weighted.

The parrot on the curtain hook startles at night frost,
arouses southern mists, coiling through Cloud Dream Park.

A pair of clinking pearls tied to a letter.
Recorded inside, our meeting place: Xiang River.

Witness to a lifetime of singing lips, withheld rain.
Pity, how perfume’s incense ages on the hand.

– Li Shangyin. Swallow Terrace: Autumn

translated by Chloe Garcia Roberts




A swallow’s form is damaged by the strength of the wind.
On the cloves, patterns of accumulating dew.

Fresh crimson, intermingled.
To weep, to smile, the two are indistinguishable.

If only there were no sister inside the moon,
surrounded by clouds, a master.

Three pure spheres and immortal islands.
What is the reason for your exile?


At Pearl Lodge blazing fragrance lingers.
After combing, brushing, jade rooms.

A burning orchid serves as a candle.
Gathered brocade never becoming text.

What by nature is gracefully remote,
transforms to bitterness with distant gazing.

I turn my head. I ask the winnowing gleam.
The winnowing gleam grows hollow.

– Li Shangyin. Hibiscus, Two Poems

translated by Chloe Garcia Roberts


Time to meet   is hard to find   and parting, too, is hard
The east wind   has no force   and a hundred flowers fail

Unless spring silkworms   reach their death   silk cannot be spun
When waxy candles   turn to ash   will tears begin to dry

In morning’s mirror   only worried   about her temples turning white
She recites at night   while I’m sure she feels   the chill glow of the moon

From this place   to Mount Penglai   is just a little road
Bluegreen bird   indulge me please   and spy a little glance

– Li Shangyin

translated by Lucas Klein