Death · relationships

Poem Without a Title 1


I believe I am a great poet, but perhaps I am not.

My name is Li Shangyin.

I am a writer from the great Tang Dynasty. Well, not so great, unless one praises corruption, cabals, ostentation, endless battles between the Taoists and the new Buddhist religion from the West, and ignoring the poor and downtrodden.

The world does not know me – yet. The government job pays the bills, but I hate the work.

“How do you expect us to support ourselves, unless you get that promotion…,” my wife often says. How I hate her sometimes.

“You never take a stand against the corruption in the government,” my friends tell me.

Then, despondent, my beloved laughs, “Don’t be angry. I will be with you wherever you need to go, and I will cook you the most amazing hubing tonight! 1
I instantly forget my bad temper.
How I love her!

相见时难别亦难,  xiāng jiàn shí nán bié yì nán
东风无力百花残。  dōng fēng wú lì bǎi huā cán
春蚕到死丝方尽,  chūn cán dào sǐ sī fāng jìn
蜡炬成灰泪始干。  là jù chéng huī lèi shǐ gān
晓镜但愁云鬓改,  xiǎo jìng dàn chóu yún bìn gǎi
夜吟应觉月光寒。  yè yín yīng jué  yuè guāng hán
蓬山此去无多路,  péng shān cǐ qù wú duō lù
青鸟殷勤为探看。  qīng niǎo yīn qín wèi tàn kān

It is so hard to be with you, so hard to leave you.
Even the East Wind is powerless,
As hundreds of flowers wither.
In Spring, the silkworm’s death morphs into silk,
And the melting candle’s smoky tears turn dry!
In the morning mirror, the hair on my brow is a gloomy cloud,
Night brings forth songs as cold as the moonlight.
Peng Mountain is now not so far,
Magic bird please find my love! Call softly where I can see you!


About the Calligraphy:
相见时难别亦难,东风无力百花残。It is so hard to be with you, so hard to leave you Even the East Wind is powerless, as hundreds of flowers wither. (2 rows, 14 characters, Cursive Cao Script) M.O. Ndesandjo

1. hubing a special bread from Henan province

2. In this curious dialogue the poet, wavering between life and death, alludes to Peng Mountain (蓬山), the mountain of the Immortals, where the Jade Emperor holds court. It is analogous to the Greek Mount Olympus or the Viking Asgard. At this crucial time, he meditates on love, calling out to the Bluebird (青鸟), messenger of the Queen of the West, one of the consorts of the Jade Emperor.

2 thoughts on “Poem Without a Title 1

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