Family and Friends · music

Guest Of The Sea (or The Gecko’s Virgin Blood)

In the Tang dynasty geckos were crushed in mortars to prepare a potion, which was then applied to mark a young girl’s arm. If she lost her virginity, its red color would change. This fantastic potion was used to regularly inspect and discipline women. The poet Li Shangyin wrote: The red Shou Palace lies in…… Continue reading Guest Of The Sea (or The Gecko’s Virgin Blood)

Family and Friends

Jasper Lake (or After The Formlessness, Who Gave Things Shape?)

My mother was the first of her generation to be born in America. Her father and mother escaped Russian pogroms when they were children. She was born under Sagittarius, in Brookline, Massachusetts. She didn’t know (or care) she was white and Jewish until her parents and friends learned of her Kenyan fiancé, and her mother…… Continue reading Jasper Lake (or After The Formlessness, Who Gave Things Shape?)

relationships

Regards to Official Cui

Happy To Hear That Official Cui At Tai Yuan Served The Imperial Censor, And Also Sends Regards To The 3rd And 2nd Year Fellow Exam Candidates  One day, Shangyin told me, “I was summoned to the Emperor. Terrified and amazed, I kowtowed before him. He looked at me sternly and said “Shangyin, why do you…… Continue reading Regards to Official Cui

Art and Aesthetics

Mr. Xie Fang Memorized and Recited My Poems

Mister Xie Fang Memorized and Recited My Poems , On a Random Day I Sent Him This Epistle After Shangyin read one of his poems to me, he calmly rested his chin on his hands and said,  “We have Beowulf, The Bhagavad-Gita, , the Bayajidda, the Sorrow at Parting of Chu Yuan, but there is…… Continue reading Mr. Xie Fang Memorized and Recited My Poems

Politics

24 Verses Lamenting The Fate Of Consul Xiao Of Suizhou

Authors note: To my knowledge this is the first translation into English of Li Shangyin’s great poem. When he wrote it, he had not yet passed the imperial examination. In it he laments the banishment of his friend and mentor Xiao Huan to Suizhou in distant Sichuan province. Enjoy! 遥作时多难,yáo zuò shí duō nán, 先令祸有源。xiān lìng huò yǒu yuán。 初惊逐客议,chū jīng zhú kè yì, 旋骇党人冤。xuán hài  dǎng…… Continue reading 24 Verses Lamenting The Fate Of Consul Xiao Of Suizhou

nature

Thirty Four Rhymes Presented To The “Five Classics” Scholar Liu

Shangyin was deep in thought, his ice cold Frappuccino was melting drops of water over his fingers. The mall plaza outside the Starbucks in Shenzhen was light and airy. Gray marble tiles gleamed for hundreds of yards under the noonday sun. In the near distance, I could see a street sweeper and a mall worker…… Continue reading Thirty Four Rhymes Presented To The “Five Classics” Scholar Liu

Death · Religion · Work

The Towers of Anding City

A farmer noticed mist forming over a hill in the distance. Curious, he walked towards it, being careful to avoid the poison ivy and the sharp brambles by the grassy path. A long, sinuous vine had curved out of the ground and wrapped itself around a trunk of a huge tree. Yet this tree had…… Continue reading The Towers of Anding City

Art and Aesthetics

Uplifting Thoughts on a Spring Night

In all the world, there is no sky more beautiful than the African sky. During the day, it is a vast concave bowl flecked with gold and snow, so vast and encompassing one may be forgiven for having a feeling of vertigo. It is even more marvellous at night because all the most interesting things…… Continue reading Uplifting Thoughts on a Spring Night

Art and Aesthetics · Death · Religion

A Poem On The Huizhong Peony Battered By The Rain

“When I wrote the Berceuse”, Chopin told me, “ I was dreaming of many things. I had just read a book from the East called the Gita. It is a religious tract that talks about life being an illusion, and how shadows are real, and how we are the reflections of what lies in the…… Continue reading A Poem On The Huizhong Peony Battered By The Rain

relationships

Poem Without a Title 7

Excerpts from an interview with Frederic Chopin, the noted musician and the Poet Li Shangyin (Around the Millennium): Paris Match: Welcome Monsieur Chopin and Master Li. Both: Thank you. Paris Match: Monsieur Chopin, let me first start by asking you, how do you manage to keep your hair so well fashioned? As you know the…… Continue reading Poem Without a Title 7

relationships

Poem Without a Title 6

The first time I met Chopin, I almost believed he was a stuck-up idiot. My beloved loves music, and has often talked to me of her favorite composer Chopin. Quite on a whim, I decided to travel to 19th century Paris and meet the man. An old general who is a friend of mine often…… Continue reading Poem Without a Title 6