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The Garnished Zither

by M. Alexander Turner

translated from Li Shangyin (c. 813–858)

The garnished zither unending,
   its fifty strings.
One string for one peg:
   I think of handsome years.

The scholar Chuang lucidly dreamt
   of mystified butterflyhood.
The prestigious lord took his spring heart
   to form a cuckoo.

The deep sea, the moon luminous:
   a pearl with tears.
The indigo field, sun inviting:
   the jade uncurling smoke.

This bliss could wait
   for full recollect.
Still, this while
   has been burned forgotten.



M. Alexander Turner is a linguistics student at BYU. He likes writing poetry, translating Tang Dynasty verse, and practicing calligraphy.