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Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Garden Lament (by Du Mu)

One of the recurring themes of Tang poetry is the garden lament, which strikes me as most apt this time of year, as the azaleas and rhododendrons and peonies are now completely spent, and we're still waiting for the hydrangeas and lilies to hit full stride.  So here is a garden lament from the great Du Mu that I hope will tide us over until the next incoming wave of blossoms has a chance to assume full form.

Flower Lament

How I regret the pursuit of fragrance
That’s already almost completely spent

In former years what once was seen
Well before the blossom opened

Just today the wind has stripped bare
Leaving the bough a disorderly mess

As bit actors now emerge from the shade
Preparing to play their role on the branch




And here's my own attempt at a lament for late June - a time of transition, on the verge of high summer, when along with the grubs and mealy bugs that descend on the garden, time's winged chariot first seems to draw near.

In late June
The green leaves
Basking in morning light
Have overleaped time and 
Grown golden in hue already
Dreaming of their transport

And the family of swans
Swimming in stately fashion
On the glittering waterway
Have assembled as if to mourn 
The summer's passage

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