When April nights are clear and moonless, the sky gathers a garland of stars so dense in spots that it seems almost a cloud of light. Black spikes of pine hedge my view, calling my attention to all that dank, rooted earth which resonates with chirping crickets. Thus enclosed, I forget the distance of the stars, and feel as though I walk in a large room that is but dimly lit. I feel thoughts stirring, and expect something to happen, but the night passes uneventfully, disturbed by nothing more than the occasional bark of a dog or hoot of an owl. That the change of season should portend some other change is nothing more than fancy or desire. These days, I dream of spells and wake with only powerless words. What power lies in these nights does not belong to me. I watch the constellations wheel, but read no revelations. I am like those earthbound crickets who chirp and chirp and change nothing.
Reading the Poems of an Absent Friend
by Ou Yang Hsiu
Tsu Mei is early dead. Chang Yu Now is somewhere in the South. And I, unhappy, am like A four horse chariot which Has lost the horses on right And left. Their memory, like A strong enemy, attacks And overthrows me. The feeble Swarm of my own thoughts struggles In vain against the shock. All Men respect hard work, but in Leisure and repose they find Happiness and peace. And me, What is the matter with me? Nothing, except that I cannot Bear the loss of friends. It has Been a long time since I have Written a poem. My ideas Are like sticky pudding. When Good land is not cultivated Regularly the grass vanishes And is replaced by weeds, hard To hoe. When you do not use A well every day the pure Water does not replace itself. By chance, I opened a book Of Mei's and I forgot Everything else while the sun Sank below the eaves. The joys Of poetry, for those who Appreciate them, increase with Time and familiarity, Their richness never ends in Satiety. I am sorry For the men of these times. They Talk of nothing interesting And have no ambition and Die without ever being Aware of the music of verse. But I who am lucky enough To appreciate these pleasures, The more I savour, the deeper I understand, the more I want. In the leisure which my duties Leave me, I stay at home, so I can enjoy them undisturbed. And I wonder that my feeble Means have enabled me to Enjoy these poems so much, that here I have run off, like a horse Whose rider has lost the bit.