garden

The garden, deep and serene;
The hall, vacant and small.
Now and then,
washerwomen’s pounding
mingles with the wind.
In this eternal night,
only a sleepless man hears
the intermittent noises
Stealthily brought to the curtains
by the moonlight.

Li Yü

poem of my heart

I

Being sleepless at midnight,
I rise to play the lute.
The moon is visible through the curtains
And a gentle breeze sways the cord of my robe.
A lonely wild-goose cries in the wilderness
And is echoed by a bird in the woods.
As it circles, it gazes
At me, alone, imbued with sadness.

Juan Chi

yamadori

Long is the mountain pheasant’s tail
That curves down in its flight;
But longer still, it seems to me,
Left in my lonely plight,
Is this unending night.

Kakinomoto no Hitomaro

autumn

On the dead limb
squats a crow –
autumn night.

Matsuo Bashō

visit

There was a night, too,
When a robber visited my home —
The year end.

Matsuo Bashō

the walls, nothing else

Walls, nothing else.
Lifeless, noiseless,
Without harsh words,
Life lies inert.

Livid light escapes
And glass nerves its glass
Against uncertain night,
With its violent squalls.

Once more as it used to be
The house comes back to life;
Times are just the same,
Different eyes see.

Have I shut the door?
Oblivion opens
Its bare rooms for me,
Grey, white, airless.

But nobody sighs.
My hands have nothing
To hold but tears. Silence;
Darkness trembling; nothing.

Luis Cernuda

to the wind

When I was a child I lay in dread,
listening to you moaning at my door,
and fancying I heard the sorrowful
and grievous dirge of some unearthly being.

When I was a youth your tumult spoke
phrases with meaning that my mind divined;
and, blowing through the camp, in after years
your harsh voice kept on crying “Fatherland.”

Now, in the dark nights, I hear you beating
against my incoercible prison-bars;
but my misfortunes have already told me

that you are wind, no more, when you complain,
wind when raging, wind when murmuring,
wind when you come and wind when you depart.

Vicente Riva Palacio

black swans

As I lie at rest on a patch of clover
In the western park when the day is done,
I watch as the wild black swans fly over
With their phalanx turned to the sinking sun;
And I hear the clang of their leader crying
To a lagging mate in the rearward flying,
And they fade away in the darkness dying,
Where the stars are mustering one by one.

Oh! ye wild black swans, ’twere a world of wonder
For a while to join in your westward flight,
With the stars above and the dim earth under,
Through the cooling air of the glorious night.
As we swept along on our pinions winging,
We should catch the chime of a church-bell ringing,
Or the distant note of a torrent singing,
Or the far-off flash of a station light.

From the northern lakes with the reeds and rushes,
Where the hills are clothed with a purple haze,
Where the bellbirds chime and the songs of thrushes
Make music sweet in the jungle maze,
They will hold their course to the westward ever,
Till they reach the banks of the old grey river,
Where the waters wash, and the reed-beds quiver
In the burning heat of the summer days.

Oh! ye strange wild birds, will ye bear a greeting
To the folk that live in that western land?
Then for every sweep of your pinions beating
Ye shall bear a wish to the sunburnt band,
To the stalwart men who are stoutly fighting
With the heat and drought and the dust storm smiting,
Yet whose life somehow has a strange inviting,
When once to the work they have put their hand.

I would fain go back to the old grey river,
To the old bush days when our hearts were light;
But, alas! those days they have fled for ever,
They are like the swans that have swept from sight.
And I know full well that the strangers’ faces
Would meet us now in our dearest places;
For our day is dead and has left no traces
But the thoughts that live in my mind tonight.

There are folk long dead, and our hearts would sicken —
We would grieve for them with a bitter pain,
If the past could live and the dead could quicken,
We then might turn to that life again.
But on lonely nights we would hear them calling,
We should hear their steps on the pathways falling,
We should loathe the life with a hate appalling
In our lonely rides by the ridge and plain.

In the silent park is a scent of clover,
And the distant roar of the town is dead,
And I hear once more as the swans fly over
Their far-off clamour from overhead.
They are flying west by their instinct guided,
And for man likewise is his fate decided,
And griefs apportioned and joys divided
By a mighty power with a purpose dread.

Banjo Peterson

dusk

Weary from travel
I seek a lodging for the night—
Wistaria flowers.

Matsuo Bashō

nocturno

A night,
a night quite full of murmurs, of perfumes,
and the music of wings:
a night
when the fantastic glow-worms burn
in the nuptial, humid darkness,
and, along the flowery path which crosses the field, you walked,
silent and pale, pressed up against me,
as if a presentiment of infinite bitterness
was troubling the most secret depths of your heart;
and the full moon scattered her
white light
through the bluish,
infinite and profound skies;
and your shadow,
agile
and graceful,
delicate
and languid,
and my shadow, projected by the moonbeams
across the sad sands of the path,
joined and were one,
and were one,
and were one
and were one single long shadow,
and were one single long shadow,
and were one single long shadow …

Tonight,
alone; the soul
full of the infinite bitterness and agonies
of your death,
separated from you yourself by time,
by the tomb and distance,
by the black infinitude
where our voice will not carry,
dumb and alone
I walked along the path,
and the barking of dogs to the moon,
to the pallid moon,
was heard,
and the croaking of the frogs…
I felt chill. It was the chill which, in your bedroom,
was held in your cheeks, in your brows, and your beloved hands,
amongst the snowy whitenesses of your burial-sheets.
It was the chill of the sepulcher, it was the ice of death,
it was the chill of nothingness…
And my shadow,
projected by the moonbeams,
passed on alone,
passed on alone,
passed on alone through the solitary plain,
and your shadow, agile and graceful,
delicate and languid,
as on that warm night of that dead spring,
as on that night full of murmurs, perfumes,
and the music of wings,
came up to and walked with mine,
came up to and walked with mine,
came up to and walked with mine…
Oh, the embraces of shadows!
Oh, the shadows of the bodies
which join the shadows of the souls!
Oh the shadows which seek each other
in the nights of sorrows and tears!…

José Asunción Silva