Dirge for Tshau Hei
I hear them say that you are dead: yet indeed I am in doubt.
How came you, so insensate, to make light of life?
You died fro your gallant? Then I cannot grudge your death.
You died for your debts? Then tell me, how can I fail to be grief-stricken?
In your life-time you accounted me your sweetheart: therefore you should have taken counsel with me:
Why, then, though our love was united for three and two months, did you say no word?
You have flung into the water that passion of days gone by.
Now, though I burn gold and silver, I avail not to carry it to the Lord of Hell.
‘Tis pity that I jilted you to drift all your life long among green arbours.
In the place of flowers and vapour never a day smoothes care from the brow:
Yet since your name is called ‘Autumn Joy’,
I do but hope that, when autumn comes, we shall have joy once more.
Why, now the winter solstice is just passed, do I suffer spite of snow and hail?
To-day, week as the spring breeze, I can make no effort to aid you:
Aye! Fallen flowers are masterless: therefore they are buried in the slough of spring.
If hereafter your passions dream dreams, you should transmit them to me ever and anon:
So perchance I may devote all my poor heart to solace of my dead mistress.
Wide, wide is the path of hell: yet your two feet are so dainty:
Hell has no inn: at whose house, prithee, will you rest?
I know not whom you trust to worship your white bones upon the green hill-side.
Lest beneath fragile willow and under the waning moon you hear but the cuckoo’s empty call.
Perchance you have no sweetheart to cast paper-money on your tomb.
So at the Tsheng-meng festival you will miss in vain the paper-money which flits round other graves.
Yes, you were best have been a virtuous wife, that I might have set your tablet in Buddha’s shrine.
Thus your spirit, forlorn and masterless, might have leaned on Budha’s strength.
It were well for you to entreat that Thsz Wan may grant you the Buddhist invocations:
Then, transformed in the next life, you can swear to be no chance-comer’s bride.
If your sin-debts are unpaid, you will again be doomed to the haunt of flower and rouge:
Therefore you should choose you a true lover, and betimes spy out your chance.
If the union of my love-fate with yours remain unbroken, I will yet find a trysting-day.
Forget it not!
Bethink you of our past love’s devotion.
Can I but converse with you till we be soul-absorbed, if then I pass through death with you, it will no be too late.