Over at TANKAWANKA, Andrew Griffin’s been doing a long series of poems in response to poems of Li Qingzhao. He discusses that dialogue and her work here (with links to many if not all the poems that have come from it).
While Andrew was home this summer he talked about a poem attributed to Li Qingzhao for which he could find no translation, and for which he was therefore doing his own. He sent me that translation the other day (it can be found in this TANKAWANKA post, along with his literal, word for word translation), and when I mentioned I might like take a stab at it, he told me to go for it. So here’s my version.
Waves Washing Over Sand (Spring Blues)
It’s more than a matter of form,
This white silk binding her waist;
It helps her hold back the welling
Slow melancholy of spring.
Under the plum trees she borrows
Thin-petaled shadow for her eyes.
What does she resemble most
Floating elegant and supple?
A lone thread of cloud at sunset,
Dimly back-lit against blue.
Her red lips are moving now,
Skilfully, in improvised song,
Shaping a pout playfully
Around every innocent word.
She wades through fallen peach blossoms
And crosses the shallow stream
To climb the jade terrace; gazes
Regretfully west. The moon’s
Light spilling down the road never
Gleams from a returning wheel.