Breaking Off in May by Zhang Xian (990-1078)
To the tune of Qianqiusui (A Thousand Autumns Old)
The frequent sound of the cuckoo
again proclaims the meadow flowers’ passing.
I enjoyed the spring, so pick its last blooms, even more.
There’s scant rain and cruel wind,
while yet the plums remain unripe.
The Yongfeng Willow
stands alone all day, its snowflake-catkins flying.
No plucking of my pipa’s highest string.
I hate it, for it speaks feebly.
Heaven won’t age, which makes love hard to break.
My heart is like a double silk net
with thousands of knots at its core.
Night is over.
My one lamp, in the eastern window, was put out, at first light.
Translated by Julian Farmer with Liang Yujing.
Julian Farmer is a poet and translator from several languages, especially French, Classical Greek, Latin, Russian and Classical Chinese. His poems and translations have been published in Acumen, Staple, Stand, London Magazine, Epiphany, SHOp, and Modern Poetry in Translation.
Liang Yujing was born in Changde, China, and completed an MA in American Literature at Wuhan University in 2007. Now a lecturer at Hunan University of Commerce, he writes in both English and Chinese. His poems in English have recently appeared in Tipton Poetry Journal, Portland Review Online, Zouch Magazine, and Wasafiri.