A Weary Song to a Slow Sad Tune


Search. Search. Seek. Seek.
Cold. Cold. Clear. Clear.
Sorrow. Sorrow. Pain. Pain.
Hot flashes. Sudden chills.
Stabbing pains. Slow agonies.
I drink two cups, then three bowls,
Of clear wine until I can't
Stand up against a gust of wind.
Wild geese fly over head.
They wrench my heart.
They were our friends in the old days.
Gold chrysanthemums litter
The ground, pile up, faded, dead.
This season I could not bear
To pick them up. All alone,
Motionless at my window,
I watch the gathering shadows.
Fine rain sifts through the wu t'ung trees,
And drips, drop by drop, through the dusk.
What can I ever do now?
How can I drive off this word–
Hopelessness?


        Chinese; trans. Kenneth Rexroth


Li Ch'ing-chao, Chinese, trans. Kenneth Rexroth, Complete Poems of Li Ch'ing chao, New Directions, 1980.