Aboard a Boat at Night, Drinking with My Wife

Mai Yao-ch’en

The moon appears from the mouth of the sheer bluff;
its light shining behind the boat over there.
I sit drinking alone with my wife;
how much better than facing some dreary stranger!
The moonlight slowly spreads over our mat,
dark shadows bit by bit receding.
What need is there to fetch a torch?
We’ve joy enough in this light alone.

Burton Watson


Autumn’s Cold

Po Ch-ui

here’s my snowy crown
time’s tinted decrepitude
there’s the frost in the courtyard
autumn’s glittery breath
now I’m sick and just watching my wife
pick cure-alls
then I’m frozen waiting for the maid
to comb my hair
without the body
what use fame?
worldly things
I’ve put aside
I delve my heart
determined now
to learn from Empty Boats!

James Cryer


In a Boat: Fearsome Weather

Yuan Mei

All day in the boat, eyes weary, wide.
Snow petals fall lightly to rest
on floating water weed.
I shut the east window, then peak out on the west,

glad, at least, the wind can’t blow
two ways at once.

J.P. Seaton

Spring at Wu Ling

Li Ch’ing-Chao

The breeze has passed,
pollen dust settled,
and now the evening comes
as I comb out my hair.

There is the book, the inkstone, the table.
But he who was my life
is gone. lt is difficult
to speak through tears.

I’ve heard it’s always spring
at Wu Ling, and beautiful.
I’d take a little boat and drift
alone out on the water.
But I’m afraid a boat
so small would swamp
with the weight
of all my sorrows.

Sam Hamill