The Nacreous Oughts

19 May 2008

"Autumn Comes"

For base and noble the same end
When every ambition's won or lost.
Galloping waves urge on the endless night,
Falling dew hurries the brief dawn.
--From Song of the Underworld (Tai k'ao-li hsing) by Pao Chao (414-66)

The wind in the wu-t'ung startles the heart, a lusty man despairs;
Spinners in the fading lamplight cry chill silk.
Who will study a bamboo book still green
And forbid the grubs to bore their powdery holes?
This night's thoughts will surely stretch my guts straight:
Cold in the rain a sweet phantom comes to console the writer.
By the autumn tombs a ghost chants the poem of Pao Chao.
My angry blood for a thousand years will be emeralds under the earth!

--Li Ho (tr A C Graham)

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