For the Courtesan Ch’ing Lin

On your slender body

Your jade and coral girdle ornaments chime
Like those of a celestial companion
Come from the Green Jade City of Heaven.
One smile from you when we meet,
And I become speechless and forget every word.
For too long you have gathered flowers,
And leaned against the bamboos,
Your green sleeves growing cold,
In your deserted valley:

I can visualize you all alone,
A girl harboring her cryptic thoughts.

You glow like a perfumed lamp
In the gathering shadows.
We play wine games
And recite each other’s poems.
Then you sing `Remembering South of the River’
With its heart breaking verses. Then
We paint each other’s beautiful eyebrows.
I want to possess you completely –
Your jade body
And your promised heart

It is Spring.
Vast mists cover the Five Lakes.
My dear, let me buy a red painted boat
And carry you away

(Translated by Kenneth Rexroth and Ling Chung in Women Poets of China)

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