The Complete Poems of Yu Xuanji


Yu Xuanji

To Guo Xiang

From dawn to dusk I'm drunk and singing,
lovesick with every new spring.
There's a messenger with letters in the rain;
there's a broken-hearted girl by the window.
Rolling up beaded blinds, I see mountains;
each sorrow's renewed like the grass.
Since last we parted, at your feasts
how often has the rafter dust fallen?

On Master Ren's founding of Blessings-Bestowed Temple

The recluse has established a marvellous place
for travellers to rest on their way;
the whitewashed walls are still uninscribed,
the lotus hall still lacks a name.
You dig a pond—a spring emerges;
you open a path—grass grows anew.
The Gold Wheel Pagoda, a hundred feet high,
facing the river, opens eyes to the light.

Visiting Master Zhao and not finding him

Where might you be, with your immortal companions?
Only your servant is home;
you've left herbs cooking on the warm brazier,
tea leaves brewing in the next courtyard.
The painted walls start to fade in the lamplight,
your flagstaff's shadow begins to slant—
again and again I look around,
but beyond the wall, only flowers.

Sent to Zi'an while gazing unhappily into the distance at Jiangling

Maple leaves: a thousand—no, ten thousand—branches;
a bridge hides slow sails reflected in the dusk.
Longing for you, my heart is like this western river's water,
flowing eastward day and night, without ever resting.


I spent those nights of comfort in the Qin Tower
without ever realising my lover had to go...
Waking now, I don't ask where the clouds have gone;
round the lamp, now almost spent, a wild moth is circling.

To the Perfect Master

Rosy clouds cut into clothing,
fragrant incense from embroidered veils:
the flowers and leaves of the lotus are __,
the __ cloak of the landscape is thin.
Halt your steps—hear the orioles singing,
open the cage—let the crane fly free.
Sleep in spring in the high hall!
Wake to the heavy dusk rain.

translated from the Chinese by Leonard Ng

Click here to read the Special Feature: Leonard Ng on Yu Xuanji.