Autumn in Fredericton
Trees thinning, the sky grows wider
As rain stops, the season feels colder
Watching the red maples I am tired of never
In those distant western hills
Oct. 13, 1996, Fredericton
Memories, adapting a Chinese song
midnight, fishing boats
slumbering with faint lights
shining on a sleepless soul.
foggy is the river
just like by-gone days, dust all over.
do you still have your smiling face? I wonder,
after so many years of oblivion.
today in this sleepless night,
you appear in my sight.
the moon sinks, and ravens crow,
an old scroll thousands of years ago.
the same waves, the same songs,
not the same moment to right our wrongs.
me and you, can we start anew?
will you ferry me over,
a passenger no more?
Aug. 9, 1997, Fredericton
Ancient Poems Rewritten
1. A Defeated Ruler
After Li Yu, emperor and poet
Time has nothing to offer but spring blossoms and autumn moon;
It takes away for ever memories of days gone by.
Last night my little mansion received east wind again;
To seek my lost land in bright moon, I was too shy.
Things should be as they were, the carved rails, the marble terraces,
Only my fair may have lost her color.
Don't you ask me how sad I am feeling now,
Behold, with spring flood, east flows the River.
2. An Army General
After Fan Zhongyan, writer and poet
Scenes change as autumn comes to the border land
No mood to stay, geese fly to the warmer climate
All around me, bugles chant their border songs
Among the mountains
A rising column of smoke, a setting sun, a closed solitary town
A cup of poorly brewed wine mirrors a home far
Over the frosty land, tunes of nomad flutes linger
Victory not at hand, I see no date to withdraw
My soul sleepless
A gray-haired man, an army general, tears of a soldier
3. Philosophizing on Life
After Yuan Haowen (1190--1257)
Old trees, deserted terraces
A touching scene of autumn.
Leisurely I drink a cup to myself.
My gray temples
Foretell the senility of autumn
And the haggardness of nature.
A half-worn heart is more prone to feelings.
Seeing grand mansions falling into decay,
I believe only those in the land of drunkenness
Can be happy.
Sailing a vast span of water,
I survey a vast land.
The moon is my candle,
And cloud my tent.
A hundred rivers of brew
Not enough to fill my cup.
What's the use of an empty name?
The ancients were wrong, I am more so.
Monkeys of wilderness! Birds in the mountains! Come and sing:
So long! Bye-bye!
Adapting Lu You (1125-1209)
A fishing rod of wind and moon,
A reed coat in smoky rain,
I live to the west where I fish.
My catch is sold but away from the city,
You think I care for a world dusty?
I take my oars when tide is in,
I moor my boat when tide is out,
With tide gone I sing my way home.
They think I am a meditator,
Nay, I am a nameless fisher.
Aug. 31, 1997
5. Solitary Abode
Adapting Su Shi, prose writer and poet
A chipped moon on leafless tree,
Quietness reigns as clock drips dry.
Walking in solitude a hermit who sees?
Shadow of a lone goose vague.
Startled, she turns her head,
Her heart felt by no one.
Of the cold branches she chooses none,
Chilly is the lonely land.
Aug. 31, 1997
6. A Man's Heart
Adapting Feng Yanyi (904--960)
For days she has gone, where is she now?
she has forgotten her return date,
Not knowing spring's coming to end.
This Clear Bright Day on a road of grass and flower,
To whose tree is her fragrant cart tied?
Tear in eyes, I murmur by the window:
Ever seen her, have you?
There are the twin swallow.
Spring sorrow flies with flower of willow,
In my long dream, her face doesn't show.
Aug. 31, 1997 Fredericton, Canada
6. After Li Qingzhao, female poet
Gone with the wind is the dusty fragrance of flowers;
Tired of the mirror is my heart.
When life is no longer the same while things still are,
Tear comes first before a word is said.
Hearing that spring is nice on the Double Stream,
I want to peddle a light boat there,
Only fearing that the tiny boat of the Double Stream,
Can't bear the weight of my sorrow.
The dusty fragrance of flowers gone with the wind,
Tired is my heart of the mirror.
When life decays while time lasts,
My words unsaid, my tear is out.
Hearing that scenes are nice on the Double Stream,
A boat I want to row.
Yet I fear the light boat of the Double Steam,
Can't bear so much sorrow.
Sept. 17, 1997
The Moon Festival
Sept. 15 of this year is the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival.
When the moon rises on the sea,
It shines far and wide,
The only free messenger,
That can bring my gaze home.
In the moon I seek
The shadows of a tree
A rabbit and a beauty
As well as a young man.
I wonder if you still remember
This story of our childhood,
While looking at a moon distanced
By a forest of sky-scrapers?
In this side of the Ocean,
Memories are like the sand.
That run through our fingers
Quickly, like traffic on freeway.
I close my eyes,
And see the moon cakes grandma made,
From our neighbor's molds.
Sept. 14, 1997 Fredericton
Three Poems of Maritimes
1. Alone at at a Cliff Cottage
The storm over
blurs the boundary
between the ocean and the sky
and paints them
in a huge brush
Beads of rain
hang still on the titanic window
of the house
separating my gaze
and the colorful flowers
now drooping wet.
The forever grounded boat
greedily holds fast
pockets of rain
caught on its body.
beside a broken bough.
2. The Legend of a Broken Rock
At West Quaco, a huge body of a cliff broke loose several years ago. Viewed from a certain angle on the West Quaco Road, this part of the cliff resembles the head of a female looking out to the sea, as if waiting for her beloved to come back from fishing.
For centuries she
hid herself in the cliff,
confident that her loved one,
who had gone out to the sea
to fish salmon
and catch lobsters,
would come back soon.
The cliff was her home,
the trees its roof,
fending off the storms
and filtering the rain,
with clean water
and giving her
Centuries have passed,
her man never returned.
tides have come back
into the St. John River
thousands of times,
but her man never returned.
The sea has been emptied
of her contents--
her fish grow sparse
and lobsters dwindle
and kelp lies in sick color,
withering under the sun,
but her man never returned.
One day she opened the cliff
and waded into the sea,
till the cold water of the bay
came up to her neck.
With expecting eyes,
she looks into the distance,
searching a drifting sail.
3. Loch Lomond
Dat shy an' quiet gal,
She dodges me every time
I come in Ole Belly's car.
I come in Ole Belly's car,
To wuk fu 'is cottage.
Ole Belly's got a cottage
Around dat bend of de road
Dat runs opposite St. Martin's
And hides in de depth of trees.
Every time I pass Loch Lomond,
I see de road sign only,
And catch a glimpse of her water,
Soft as emerald gauze.
Ole Belly never stops dere.
He stops at de airpor' gas,
To be waited by a stout lady
With toast, bacon and eggs.
He stops dere fu breakfast
As late as eleven o'clock,
And reads de Zeller's ad,
And draws a list of buys.
Den we hurry to his cottage
Messy as an age-old sty.
Dere we dust an' paint an' sweep,
Smelling de shit of mice.
Den we sit in 'is stinky car
Full of sticky rusty pennies
To go shopping in de village store
He holding 'is falling pants.
One day we passed Loch Lomond.
"It's a pretty name, " I said.
"It sounds like a Chinese word
That means 'romantic dreams'."
Old Belly laughed like a lobster,
'cause he no knew words Chinese.
The beautiful sound of "Lomond,"
Was fiddle played to cows.
Weekend o'er, we tired and go home
Sometimes in a melancholy rain.
I can't afford no sleep in de car,
'Cause I wanna see her again.
Aug. 17, 1998
Thinking of Trees
Life is like trees that change colors
From fresh green to reddish brown to pale yellow
And it is fast! Yesterday's sunny sky
Can be heavy with wet snow overnight
Sudden changes of things make us moody
And speculative about the meaning of life
Empty we feel all the labors of men
When finally Heaven destroys all
As we look back, we repent our wrongs
And beg forgiveness from those we offended
But who can redeem us, except the omnipotent
The Tao of universe, or the Lord of heaven
Trees rejuvenate, men do not
When our shells decay, to dust they go
What remain are the photo albums
Like dry leaves put away and then forgotten
Things past scatter like clouds
Into the void of sky they disappear
And rejoin at some unknown moment
Without recognizing each other
Someday, a chancy discovery of some dry leaves
In an antiquarian book of yellow pages
Will tell a story that no one can confirm
To a young heart.
Oct. 27. 1997, written at UNB library, seeing the first snow of 1997.
Reading in Kings Place
I'm reading in Kings Place
Diluting the sun
And forecasting the menace
Of my first Canadian winter
Inside it's warm
With late morning coffee drinkers
Senior citizens of a
Sipping, gossiping, blankly staring
The lone maple tree
At the Canadian Trust
Refuses to turn red
Its golden leaves
(Printed in The Brunswickan)
Exhortation on Filial Piety
---------Being an interpretive translation of a poem in Mei's Restaurant in Fredericton.
Who can be dearer than our parents?
Who else deserves our filial piety?
A drop of respect paid to our parents
Invites a sea of love from our posterity
Someday one may become a millionaire
Yet his parents are not readily bought
Parents enjoying centennials are rare
Negligence of duty leads to sad thought
Why not serve them when they are healthy?
Why wait and then visit their lonely grave?
Harsh words do make our parents unhappy
They can't be recalled when buried in a cave.
Then one has no way to see one's mother
His repenting soul will forever linger
An Autumn Morning
The wind of the night brings a morning cold
Outside, grass white with frost
And lawns yellow with fallen leaves
That no hand collects
Pumpkins smile by the door
No souls awake, no sound heard
Alone in the depth of autumn
I feel my heart aging
Oct. 20, 1996, Fredericton
Aug. 17, 1998
树的思考 – 见1997年初雪作 1997.10.27
有的啜饮， 有的闲聊， 有的看着外边
看香港回归1997. 6. 30