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Fading [Mar. 19th, 2006|04:22 am]
Winter's last moon, waning, casts dim light, and the shadow brocade that creeps across the lawn is vague. I'd lost track of the moon's phase during the cloudy nights, and was a bit surprised to see its gibbous form rising as late as it did. It travels with Jupiter tonight, through a sky now without clouds. The chorus of frogs reminds me that few nights this chilly remain to the season. The equinox draws near, and then April will bring longer, brighter evenings and milder airs. I linger outdoors, savoring the chill that is soon to be gone, until gray light pales the shadows away, Jupiter vanishes, and the moon becomes a ghost. Soon, the memory of winter will be as pale.

Sunday Verse

The Pine-Trees in the Courtyard

by Po Chu-i

                        Below the Hall  
The pine-trees grow in front of the steps,
Irregularly scattered, --not in ordered lines.
          Some are tall and some are low:
The tallest of them is six roods high;
          The lowest but ten feet.
          They are like wild things
          And no one knows who planted them.
They touch the walls of my blue-tiled house;
Their roots are sunk in the terrace of white sand.
Morning and evening they are visited by the sun and moon;
Rain or fine, --they are free from dust and mud.
In the gales of autumn they whisper a vague tune;
From the suns of summer they yield a cool shade.
At the height of spring the fine evening rain
Fills their leaves with a load of hanging pearls.
At the year's end the time of great snow
Stamps their branches with a fret of glittering jade.
Of the four seasons each has its own mood;
Among all the trees none is like another.
Last year, when they heard I had bought this house,
Neighbors mocked and the World called me mad--
That a whole family of twice ten souls
Should move house for the sake of a few pines!
Now that I have come to them, what have they given me?
They have only loosened the buckles of my care.
Yet even so, they are "profitable friends",
And fill my need of "converse with wise men".
Yet when I consider how, still a man of the world,
In belt and cap I scurry through dirt and dust,
From time to time my heart twinges with shame
That I am not fit to be master of my pines!

-translated by Arthur Waley