The Place of flowers and vapour
The place of flowers and vapour is a haunt of demon spirits.
Many as are your sensuous joys, so many will be your pangs of anguish.
Snow and moon, wind and blossoms I have already seen.
But, prithee, how many eternal pleasures are for sale?
You can but deem them transient as a cloud of smoke: their thralldom is error.
Though you mine the mountains, I fear ‘twere hard to fill up the unfathomed river-depths.
If your talk is of true virtue and true passion, who then has braved death for you?
I fear when the money is spent from beneath your pillow, you must part from the present, however fair.
In fine, flowers and willows hurt more men than one.
Ah! Bethink you!
Quench the fire of heart and head!
Everywhere I warn the children of men lest they knit awry the webbed creepers upon the water.
My hand holds a silk fan of Tshai workmanship.
O fan! My words remind me that I have not carried thee for a year’s space.
When the heat begins anew, I am wont to bethink myself of thee.
Why then, when autumn comes, do I discard thee?
In fine, as fans are thrown aside, so girls are jilted.
Methinks, it needs no mention that men’s love blows cold and warm.
The world’s way is hot and chill: cease from your repining.
Who is not hot before he can grow cold?
In a hot place you must reckon on the cold which follows.
Be not at first meeting so ardent in impulsiveness.
Though it were but words: yet in ardour you can but be entranced: and how will you then remember that the sequel of human things may change?
Ah! Your fever is so impassioned.
Set your heart’s love on one side!
Yes, an outcast in the cold, you will not now remember the heat which went before.