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