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Friday, August 26, 2011

On Mutual Longing

This is my translation of a poem by the Song Dynasty poet Lin Bu. I don't know much about him. Supposedly he lived the life of a recluse and turned down successive requests to attend upon his Majesty the Emperor. According to one source, although he lived as a solitary hermit, Lin considered himself betrothed to his plum trees and together with them is said to have sired a child who was a snow white crane. I can't swear to the biographical accuracy of this story, but in any case I consider this to be an incredibly beautiful poem.

On Mutual Longing

The Wu Mountains
Are clothed in green
So too are the Yue

On both sides
The green hills
Regard each other
In uneasy greeting

As if such like beings could somehow
Overcome the distance and feelings
Holding them apart

The gentleman weeps
Without restraint
So too does the lady

The same feelings
Swaddle their separate hearts
While remaining unfulfilled

The river of tears
Rises to equal level
Atop the distant banks

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