Untitled by Li Shang Yin (813 – 858)


Too hard to meet now but as hard to part

Blossoms fade despite the breath of spring

A silk worm’s thread ends only at its death

The wax torch weeps until it turns to ash

Morning mirrors the greying at the temples

The icy moon touches the keening at night

From here to heaven the way is ever short

Blue birds are bustling as our go-between


Translated by Mary Tang 鄧許文蘭 2015


The recording is my reading of the Chinese text in Cantonese.



About Mary Tang

An urban orchardist everyday, a volunteer regularly, a poet sometimes and a blogger since March 2015. I travel when I can. Food is a constant.
This entry was posted in Poetry, Translation and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Untitled by Li Shang Yin (813 – 858)

  1. taphian says:

    Such a beautiful poem again, I especially like the sentence “The icy moon touches the keening at night”. I remember how often I looked to the moon at night and it seemed to be so cold that I was nearly shivering. Thanks for sharing, dear Mary. Have a nice day, kind regards Mitza

    Liked by 1 person

  2. arlingwoman says:

    This is about nothing more or less than the human condition. Astonishing in so few lines.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. oglach says:

    I greatly appreciate the inclusion of the reading of the poem.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sunshine Jansen says:

    I share Len’s enthusiasm for Li Shangyin — what a treat for me to hear this poem for the first time in Cantonese, and to read your fresh translation!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. zdunno03 says:

    “From here to heaven the way is ever short”. Indeed it is, and it seems to be getting shorter each day. Lovely translation, Mary. I reblogged this.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. zdunno03 says:

    Reblogged this on Leonard Durso and commented:
    Mary Tang’s translation of a poem by Li Shang-yin, one of my personal favorites of the T’ang Dynasty poets.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Very deep meanings

    Liked by 1 person

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