Selected Poems from Sung Dynasty
Wang An-shih (A.D. 1021 - 1086)
Anchoring the Boat at Melon Island
Water separates Ching-k'ou* from the Melon Isle;
A few folds of mountains away is the Chung-shan range**.
Spring breeze dyes the south bank green again,
When will the bright moon shine on my return?
* Ching-k'ou: The part of the Grand Canal on the Yangtze River, the present Chin-kiang city in Kiang-su province.
** Chung-shan: Chung-shan mountain is located in the city of Nanking in Kiang-su province, which served as the capital for many dynasties.
Su Shih (A.D. 1036 - 1101)
The West Lake When Rain is Falling*
These pools, so lovely when their bright
Wavelets are glancing in sunlight,
Still, when the hills are dimmed with rain,
Their pristine loveliness retain.
For symbol of the West Lake
The Western Maid you well may take,
Whether adorned with white and rose
Or in unpainted grace she goes.
* The West Lake, located in Hang-chou, is compared to Hsi-shih, "the Western Maid", a beauty of ancient times, whose occasional frown enhanced her charms.
Lu Yu (A.D. 1125 - 1210)
Testament to His Son*
With death although
Right well I know
All things are done;
Yet woe were me
Never to see
This Realm at one.
Our armies may
The North unite,
That news mind well
Your sire to tell
In sacred rite**.
* This is the last poem that the writer composed, in his death bed. He was still dreading that the northern part of the country was not yet freed from the Tartars' rule.
** Sacred rite: Refers to the customary worship rendered by a son to the spirit of his dead parent.