By The Lake
The old fellow from Shao-ling weeps with stifled sobs as he walks furtively by the
bends of the Sepentine on a day in spring.
In the waterside palaces the thousands of doors are locked. For whom have the willows
and rushed put on their fresh greenery?
I remember how formerly, when the Emperor’s rainbow banner made its way into the
South Park, everything in the park seemed to bloom with a brighter color. The First
Lady of the Chao-yang Palace rode in the same carriage as her lord in
attendance at his side, while before the carriage rode maids of honour equipped with
bows and arrows, their white horses champing at golden bits.
Leaning back, face skywards, they shot into the clouds; and the Lady laughed gaily
when a bird fell to the ground transfixed by a well-aimed arrow.
Where are the bright eyes and the flashing smile now?
Tainted with blood-pollution, her wandering soul cannot make its way back.
The clear waters of the Wei flow eastwards, and Chien-ko is far away: between the one
who has gone and the one who remains no communication is possible.
It is human to have feelings and shed tears for such things; but the grasses and
flowers of the lakeside go on for ever, unmoved.
As evening falls, the city is full of the dust of foreign horseman. My way is towards the
South City, but my gaze turns northward. (tr. Hawkes)