Wu Tsao

I have closed the double doors.
In what corner of the heavens is she?
A horizontal flute
Beyond the red walls
Blown as gently as the breeze
Blows the willow floss.
In the lingering glow of the sunset
The roosting crows ignore my melancholy.
Once again I languidly get out of bed.
After I have burned incense,
I loiter on the jeweled staircase.
I regret the wasted years,
Sick, afraid of the cold, afraid of the heat,
While the beautiful days went by.
Suddenly it is the Autumn Feast of the Dead.
Constantly disturbed by the changing weather,
I lose track of the flowing light
That washes us away.
Who moved the turning bridges
On my inlaid psaltery?
I realize—
Of the twenty-five strings
Twenty-one are gone.

- translated by Kenneth Rexroth and Ling Chung