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)

music

The Palace of Emperor Chen – Two Poems (Or Mozart in Prague)

On one of his travels across time, Shangyin landed in Prague. It was January 1787. During a brief stint as a reporter for Prager Oberpostamtszeitung , he interviewed the composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Mozart was a little under 5 feet tall, with an unusually large head topped with a mass of carrot colored hair. He…… Continue reading The Palace of Emperor Chen – Two Poems (Or Mozart in Prague)

Art and Aesthetics · nature · Politics

40 Verses Of The Muddy Well

At sunrise, on a day trip to Reno, Shangyin drove past the orange groves that cover southern California. On a whim, he stopped his car and got out. Except for an old man pruning some trees by the roadside, there was no-one in sight. The man’s face was wrinkled and dark, and he had a…… Continue reading 40 Verses Of The Muddy Well

Art and Aesthetics

Song of the Inner Palace

The Qing dynasty scholar Wang Guowei wrote of poems falling into two categories: close by or remaining at a distance. The Chinese character he uses for distance is ge(隔), whose ancient pictogram consists of three mounds, and a three legged urn. Shangyin’s poems often evoke a distance between the reader and the word, by referring…… Continue reading Song of the Inner Palace

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

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