Guan Hanqing



why shouldn’t it return?
spring is back but not you
daily I yellow and weaken
growing light as willow fluff
all season no fish or geese bring news—
only two swallows nesting on the beams


handsome bastard!
gone to the end of the earth
where’s that green oak to tether your horse?
listless I sit under the south window
tallying days in the breeze, pining
my eyebrows gone pale, for whom should I repaint them?
my face grown so quant, I’d be ashamed to wear a pomegranate blossom


wind blows and blows
drizzle after drizzle
even were I Chen Fu I couldn’t sleep
weariness and sorrow gripe at my gut
tears upon tears wet my lap
autumn’s cricket quits rasping, winter’s grasshopper begins to creak
drop by drop cold rain dampens the banana leaves


snowflake snowflake
burying the heavy door
unsure if my soul has abandoned me
wizened like Jiang Mei, I write a last poem
river river to what distant village does your clear water lead my eyes?
who notices me, cold in this perfumed boudoir?
what a meager form against the balustrade!

— translated from the Chinese by Paul Watsky and Alex To