Shu Ting: Uneasy Night in a Hotel ~ 舒婷《旅馆之夜》 with English Translations
























Uneasy Night in a Hotel

Shu Ting

The love announcement co-authored by lip prints and a tear

Bravely climbs up the pillar into the postbox

Which is ice cold

And has been out of commission a long time

The paper strip sealing it like a bandage wavers faintly in the wind

The eaves curve softly under a black cat’s paws

Large trucks ride over sleep till it’s flattened thin and hard


Dream all night long of the starting pistol’s shot

The jugglers can’t hold onto their eggs

Street lamps explode with a screech

Paint the color of egg yolk makes night seem all the more scraggly

A woman in a nightgown

Opens the door like an earthquake

Bare feet dash like crazy deer across the carpet

A huge flying moth flutters across the wall

Flames spurt out above the jangling telephone

The receiver sounds completely


Only snow

Sings unceasingly on the electric wire far away

(Fang Dai, Dennis Ding & Edward Morin 译)

Bing Xin: On Life ~ 冰心•《谈生命》 with English Translations


On Life


Bing Xin


I would not venture to say what Life is; I would only say what Life is like.


Life begins like a nascent river flowing eastward, having emerged from ice and snow somewhere up high. Converging with many a rivulet to form a powerful torrent, he embarks on his downward dash, zigzagging by cliffs, flattening dunes and mounds, churning up sands and pebbles. He rushes along with joy, with confidence, with license. When blocked by rocks, he charges with rage, roaring, twirling and swirling, wave after wave, until finally clearing the imposing obstacles and continuing his journey on a light-hearted note. Sometimes he rolls quietly on leveled terrain through green grass in the setting sun, caressing fine sand, giving now and then a shy gaze at the bright peach blossoms on the banks, and singing softly while stepping gently into the romantic rhythm of this joyful leg of his voyage.


Sometimes he is caught in storms, with horrifying burst of thunder and lightning. Ripped by ferocious gales and beaten by punishing downpours, he becomes, for a time, ruffled and muddy, only to find himself refreshed and energize when embraced by the sunshine again. At calmer moments he is charmed by the clouds waltzing along the horizon at dusk, and smiling at him, and then by the arrival of the new moon, which sketches his silhouette, and bestows a touch of warmth in the midst of a chilly night. A yearning for a respite or slumber gnaws at him, but eventually gives way to the impetus to move on.


Finally one day the ocean leaps into his view from afar. Alas! He is at the end of his journey. So vast, so imposing, so bright, and yet so dark, the ocean is breath-taking and humbling! When she greets him solemnly, he lets himself drop into her massive arms, dissolved and naturalized, experiencing neither joy nor sorrow. Perhaps, one day he would again rise from the sea in the form of fine vapors and travels westward, to form again a river that would dash by cliffs, and look for peach blossoms on the banks. But I dare not say that’s the rebirth of his previous life, for I couldn’t bring myself to believe in an afterlife.


Life begins also like a young tree. He starts his journey underground where he gathers vitality and struggles to extend his tiny self to the snow above. When dew drops in early spring have moistened the soil, he musters his courage to push up, and out comes he! It doesn’t matter to him whether he happens to be on a level stretch of land, or on a rock, or on a wall, as long as he can see the sky when he looks up. Oh, he sees the sky! He’s thrilled! Eagerly, he stretches his tender leaves upwards, inhaling fresh air, basking in the sun, singing in the rain, dancing in the wind. He may be overshadowed and oppressed by the big trees towering over him, but empowered by his youthful vigor he manages to break free. Branching out strong, he positions himself squarely in the burning sun. When balmy spring breezes kiss him into full blossom, he finds himself surrounded by humming bees, fluttering butterflies, and chirping birds. He also hears orioles whistling, cuckoos crying, or owls hooting.


In his prime, his thick foliage spreads out like a colossal green cover, giving shake to budding flowers and young grass below. The abundant fruit he produces is so inexhaustibly rich and sweet, flavored by Mother Earth. Then comes the autumn wind in sharp gusts, turning his dark green color into many shades of red, yellow and orange. Standing in the autumn sun, he radiates a stately calmness, tinged not with an indulgence in the pride in his foregone blooming prowess or the bliss of sweet fruition, but rather with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. One day, winter’s bitter air bits off the last of his withered leaves and parched twigs. His roots wobbly and his trunk shaken, he leaves himself at the mercy of elements. When Mother Earth greets him solemnly, he collapses quietly into her massive arms, dissolved and naturalized, experiencing neither joy nor sorrow. Perhaps, someday he would again push up from underground, where he has been gathering vitality as a seed, to become a young tree again. Once again he would break free from the entanglements surrounding him, and once again he would be listening to orioles singing. But I dare not say that’s the rebirth of his previous life, for I couldn’t bring myself to believe in an afterlife.


The universe represents an all-encompassing life, in which we are but tiny breathing souls. While rivers and streams merge into the ocean, and fallen leaves return to where the roots are, we are no more than specks that join all that exits in the universe. However insignificant, and however seemingly negligible, the tiniest particles, by virtue of their never-ending motion, join forces to power the evolution of the universe. But we have to remember: all rivers or streams would not end up blending into the ocean, since those that do not flow would become stagnant; all seeds would not transform themselves into trees, since those that fail to grow would be reduced to empty hulls. Life is neither a joy forever, nor an ever-lasting woe, for the two shape each other and are mutually balancing, much in the same manner as a river is bound to wash against different banks, and a tree is destined to experience seasonal changes. In happiness we owe our thanks to Life, and in agony we are no less indebted to Life. Bliss is, needless to say, heartening, but who can claim that beauty is absent from pain and suffering? As an adage goes, “may there be enough clouds in your life to make a beautiful sunset”.

(蔡力坚 译)

Wei Ying-wu: At Cloud-Wisdom Monastery, in the Ch’an Master’s Courtyard ~韦应物《昙智禅师院》 with English Translations







At Cloud-Wisdom Monastery, in the Ch’an Master’s Courtyard

Wei Ying-wu

Exalted with age, you never leave here:

the gate-path is overgrown with grass.

But summer rains have come, bringing

fruits and herbs into such bright beauty,

so we stroll down into forest of shadow,

sharing what recluse birds feel at dusk,

freed even of our names. And this much

alone, we wander the countryside back.

(David Hinton 译)

Wen Yiduo: Sins ~ 闻一多《罪过》 with English Translations






















Wen Yiduo

The old man fell down with his load,

White apricots and red cherries scattered all over.

The old man got up muttering incessantly,

“I know my sins today!”

“Your hands are bleeding, old man. Look!”

“Oh, no! All crushed! Good cherries!”

“Old man, are you well?

Why are you staring at me without a word?”

“I know my sins today!

Early this morning my son kept hurrying me.

My son, still in bed, got mad;

He scolded me for not yet leaving the city.”

“I knew it was getting late,

I didn’t realize I overslept,

Now when am I going to do, going to do?

What will the whole family eat?”

The old man picks them up and lets them go,

White apricots and red cherries scattered all over.

(Gloria Rogers 译)

《兰亭集序》林语堂 with English Translations



It is the ninth year of Yonghe (A.C.353), also known as the year of Guichou in terms of the Chinese lunar calendar.On one of those late spring days, we gather at the Orchid Pavilion, which is located in Shanyin County, Kuaiji Prefecture, for dispelling bad luck and praying for good fortune.The attendees of the gathering are all virtuous intellectuals, varying from young to old. Endowed with great mountains and lofty peaks, Orchid Pavilion has flourishing branches and high bamboo bushes all around, together with a clear winding brook engirdled, which can thereby serve the guests by floating the wine glasses on top for their drinking. Seated by the bank of brook, people will still regale themselves right by poetizing their mixed feelings and emotions with wine and songs, never mind the absence of melody from string and wind instruments.

是日也,天朗气清,惠风和畅。 仰观宇宙之大,俯察品类之盛。所以游目骋怀,足以极视听之娱,信可乐也。

It is such a wonderful day, with fresh air and mild breeze.Facing upwards to the blue sky, we behold the vast immensity of the universe; when bowing our heads towards the ground, we again satisfy ourselves with the diversity of species.Thereby we can refresh our views and let free our souls, with luxuriant satisfaction done to both ears and eyes. How infinite the cheer is!


People keep coming and going, and life soon rushes to its end. Some people prefer to share their proud aspiration and lofty goals with close friends indoors, while some others choose to follow their interest and free their minds wherever and whenever they like. May characters vary from person to person, or some would rather stay peaceful while others like to live restlessly, they will all become delighted and satisfied once they meet something pleasant, so cheerful that they get unaware of their imminent old age.However, when they get tired of their old fancies that they’ve already experienced, and sentiment correspondingly accompanies the change of situation, all sorts of complicated feelings will well up in the heart, too. Isn’t it thought-provoking that the happiness we used to enjoy passes by without leaving a single trace, let alone that the length of life is subject to the fate, and death is inevitable for anybody in the end? Just as some ancient man once put it, “Death also deserves our attention, like what life does.”, so how can we restrain ourselves from grieving?


Every time I ponder about the reasons why our predecessors would produce works with such inenarrable emotions, I find there seem some similarities between our minds. Yet I cannot help lamenting their literary masterpieces while I am struggling for the very cause in my innermost world. Now I come to realize that it has been ridiculous for me to equate death with life, long life with short life . The descendents view us just the way we look at our predecessors, and how woeful it is! Hence I write down all the names of the attendees and put their poetry into record. Conditions may go with the changes of time, but people’s emotions shall stay the same. I believe the following readers will still have much to mediate about life and death when appreciating this poetry anthology.

Hai Zi: Sunlight ~ 海子《日光》 with English Translations












Hai Zi

Pear blossoms

Slither on top of the earthen walls

Constant clinking of cattle-bells

My aunt drags two little cousins over

To stand before me

Like two lumps of charcoal

Sunlight is really quite strong

A sort of whip and blood for all living things

(Naikan Tao and Tony Prince 译)

Tao Yuanming: The Peach Colony ~ 桃花源记——陶渊明 with English Translations


The Peach Colony



During the reign of Taiyuan of Chin, there was a fisherman of Wuling. One day he was walking along a bank. After having gone a certain distance, he suddenly came upon a peach grove which extended along the bank for about a hundred yards. He noticed with surprise that the grove had a magic effect, so singularly free from the usual mingling of brushwood, while the beautifully grassy ground was covered with its rose petals. He went further to explore, and when he came to the end of the grove, he saw a spring which came from a cave in the hill, Having noticed that there seemed to be a weak light in the cave, he tied up his boat and decided to go in and explore. At first the opening was very narrow, barely wide enough for one person to go in. After a dozen steps, it opened into a flood of light. He saw before his eyes a wide, level valley, with houses and fields and farms. There were bamboos and mulberries; farmers were working and dogs and chickens were running about. The dresses of the men and women were like those of the outside world, and the old men and children appeared very happy and contented. They were greatly astonished to see the fisherman and asked him where he had come from. The fisherman told them and was invited to their homes, where wine was served and chicken was killed for dinner to entertain him. The villagers hearing of his coming all came to see him and to talk. They said that their ancestors had come here as refugees to escape from the tyranny of Tsin Shih-huang (builder of Great Wall) some six hundred years ago, and they had never left it. They were thus completely cut off from the world, and asked what was the ruling dynasty now. They had not even heard of the Han Dynasty (two centuries before to two centuries after Christ), not to speak of the Wei (third century A.D.) and the Chin (third and fourth centuries). The fisherman told them, which they heard with great amazement. Many of the other villagers then began to invite him to their homes by turn and feed him dinner and wine.After a few days, he took leave of them and left. The villagers begged him not to tell the people outside about their colony.


The man found his boat and came back, marking with signs the route he had followed. He went to the magistrate’s office and told the magistrate about it. The latter sent someone to go with him and find the place. They looked for the signs but got lost and could never find it again. Liu Tsechi of Nanyang was a great idealist. He heard of this story, and planned to go and find it, but was taken ill and died before he could fulfill his wish. Since then, no one has gone in search of this place.

Gu Taiqing: Jiang cheng zi: Fallen Flowers ~ 顾太清·《江城子·落花》 with English Translations


















Jiang cheng zi:

Fallen Flowers

Gu Taiqing

Flowers bloom, flowers fall, all in the same year.

I pity the faded reds

And blame the east wind,

They vex me so, these fallen petals aplenty;

Like snow flurries pelting at the curtained window.

o sit watching whirling blossoms flower-gazing time is past.

Spring again is gone

Far too hastily!

With whom can I share my grief in pitying the flowers?

Too lazy for my morning make-up,

So overpowering is my sorrow.

When the swallows return,

A crimson shower falling east of my painted chamber.

Lying everywhere, the spring grief cannot be pecked away;

So utterly thoughtless

Are the wandering honeybees.

(Irving Y. Lo 译)

张贤亮 《男人的一半是女人》(节选) with English Translations

“Me? Don’t even ask.” She laughed, as she reeled off a line from a model revolutionary play. Then she stamped down the earth that I had shoveled in. “Eight years: I married twice and divorced twice. That was about it. Luckily there weren’t any children.”

I kept on working, not at all surprised. I had seen too much, and heard too much. In the end, there was very little that I could not imagine. If she didn’t get along that way, how was she to live? Good fortune was a kind of miracle, misfortune was the norm. She, in turn, felt no surprise at my own experience. In that respect we both totally understood each other. Her lack of any commiseration was fine—through the years, I had come to dislike the simpering sympathy of other people.
“You’ve been in jail twice over these years, well, don’t laugh, I’ve been married twice. Comes to the same thing. At times, I think jail must be easier to take than marriage. The first time, I didn’t tell him I’d been in the camps, and I lived in fear that he would find out. When he eventually did, he asked for a divorce. The second time, at the White Sands Commune, I told him all about my past from the very start. After that, he was always bringing it up again holding it against me. In the end I couldn’t take it, and I asked him for a divorce. First time, he didn’t want me; second time, I didn’t want him. One to one, even! So that’s life, I’m not getting married again.”

“That’s easy enough. If you don’t want to marry, you don’t have to. But me, if I don’t want to go to jail it isn’t my decision.” I teased her, “Marriage is up to you, jail’s not up to me. You’ve been a lot better than I have.”
From the start we spoke to each other like old friends. There are all kinds of patterns in friendship. With some, you find it natural to be close from the beginning, with others it takes some time before the wheel engage. If the gears don’t mesh, the thing does not go at all. We both ignored the hardships of the other, because we had encountered enough in our own lives. At the same time, we understood each other, because although the form of suffering we each had endured was different the essence of what we had felt was the same.

: See a Friend Off to Wu ~ 杜荀鹤·《送人遊吴》 with English Translations








See a Friend Off to Wu

Tu Hsun-ho

I see you to Ku-su.

Homes there, sleeping by the stream.

Ancient palace, few abandoned spots.

And by the harbor, many little bridges.

In the night market, lotus, fruit and roots.

On the spring barges, satins and gauze.

Know, far off, the moon still watches.

Think of me there, in the fisherman’s song.

(J. P. Seaton 译)

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