Mourning for Another
Fresh peaches I have seen
remind me of her delicate form;
in windswept willows I recognize
her feathery, moth-like brows.
The pearl has returned
to the dragon cave;
who will see her now?
The mirror’s still here,
but the phoenix is gone;
how can they converse?
On misty rainy nights from now,
dreams will be of sorrow;
nonce can bear the silent pain
when desolate, alone.
The sun has set and disappeared
beyond the western slopes;
and now the moon has risen
over the eastern hills:
how bitter it is to think of how
the end can come without cause.
（Bannie Chow, Thomas Cleary 譯）
Elegy on Another’s Behalf
The young peach I glimpsed calls to mind her jade beauty,
Willows trailing in the wind I recognize her moth eyebrows.
The pearl has returned to the dragon’s cave, who shall see it again? 1
The mirror remains on the phoenix stand, but to whom shall I speak? 2
From now on, in dreams I will grieve through nights of mist and rain,
Unable to bear bitter chanting when I am lonely.
As the sun sets on the western mountains, the moon rises in the east,
But there is no way to end my regretful thoughts.
1. Cf. Zhuangzi, chap. 32: “A pearl worth a thousand gold pieces certainly belongs in the nine-layered abyss, beneath the chin of a black dragon.”
2. According to legend, the king of Jibin (Kashmir) once bought a female phoenix. Despite being fed the most expensive delicacies, she refused to sing. After three years the king’s wife said to him, “I’ve heard that if a phoenix sees its like, it will sing. Why not hang a mirror in front of her?” The king followed her advice. The phoenix saw her reflection and cried out broken-heartedly. Spreading her wings, she rose into the air once and died.
（Jennifer Carpenter 譯）