The unhurried day drizzles, turns
westward and sinks beneath the sea.
All things hold their breath, the stars
just right, glorious like the forest.
The toad on the moon eats,
the demons strive to come out of the clouds.
The city dozed fitfully, alone, hesitated,
then rose and picked up its instrument.
[Note: This is a first draft of a work based on a poem of Mei Yao-ch’en (1002-1060), about whom I have written many poems on this blog. As with the previous poem I shared, this will likely change greatly from its current state to a final accurate version more worthy of being called a translation. The method I’m following is unusual but feels most natural for me — To write an impression of the poem gathered into my own poem in English, and then to continue to write a poem in English, and another, with the hope that each one gets closer and closer to my friend Sheng-yu’s poem in its traditional Chinese characters, till they are at least close enough to nod at each other or share a bottle of wine. Chen Zhang, who is busy at Harvard finishing her dissertation while teaching as the Chinese Literary Preceptor up there in Cambridge, furnished me with the traditional characters for Mei’s poem. I will keep you updated on any new versions. ]