Category Archives: 粵謳





Burn pure oil

Half a lamp-bowl of pure oil, how many wicks will it light?
My lord, your heart has so many changing seasons; tell me, how can I go in its quest?
I see your heart is fiery: there is not oil enough to submerge the wick.
Make trial and see what depth of pure oil is in yonder lamp-bowl.
Yet I fear, the more submerged, the drier the wick will be: while the oil grows all the less.
Would it were as if on the short wick more oil might be poured drop by drop!
Fear not my censure!
Be not like those graceless churls!
But, even as the lamp-wick is turned upwards, so do you take heart and play the man!





Payment of flower-debts

Methinks that my doom is already fulfilled, or maybe my flower-debts are paid off.
Debts paid and doom fulfilled alike stir in me anguish of parting and sorrow of farewell.
When we two were so impassioned, could I have thought our love would not endure to the end?
As I muse on that bygone phase of frolic in wind and moon, my dream seems broken and my soul entranced.
When first we were united, your handmaid was yet young in years.
(The while my converse discloses to you the folds of my heart, I dread hearing the cock crow over the water.)
I did but think that, since our time was so long, we should devise a plan together.
How could I know that, because of the deep love between you and your wife, you would not escort home your lowly concubine?
You have hurt me till like the split elm, wind-riven, I can trust no ligature.
Little by little I bethink me that I drift aimlessly, therefore must I find a resting-place.
To-day men call us light of love, ‘Tis false: yet it seems truth:
For among so large a sisterhood, who can know how my heart’s love is crossed?
On my body I wear this green garment, washing it ever with mine own tears.
Alas! ‘twas not so planned.
My lord, you have hardened your heart: you are loth to look at me.
For this cause, since the day when I heard you say ‘I go’ – you never, never have returned.




I comb a parting in my hair and coif the set tresses –
Sign that he parts all troubles and is set to come hither betimes.
In the centre of my head-dress I must braid in the peruke:
If I concentrate my heart, why should I fear slander?
I bind the hair near the head and plait the ringlets at the end:
For to the end I must follow my lord e’er I attain my desire.
The flower-stylet with the flowers must be pressed through below the coif:
In such style will I thoroughly pay off my flower-debts and press you to take me home.
Withal, the flowers must match the head-dress and the moon-cinnamon be fastened in the curis on either side:
Then will the old man in the moon and the flower-king protect us both, and keep us knit close as eyebrows, though our hair grow white with age.





Hark the crows’cawing!

Whoso is broken-hearted, dreads to hear the cawing of the crows.
They caw so crossly: methinks, it is indeed because they would gain a branch to perch upon.
Who does not hope to soar aloft? Yet after all it is not over easy:
Aye, and the feathers upon your body are not yet fully fledged.
O crow! Why dost thou but fashion a bridge for other men to cross, yet knowest not thy own mischance?
Both sides are all a-flutter, you should indeed find a resting-place.
To-day wind and dew are fresh and cool: but the forest-jungle so thwarts your way,
That you needs must take thought betimes.
Wait not till your raven hair turns white, e’er you learn that the world’s way is hard.




The lonely lamp

Whoso is broken-hearted dreads vigil by the lonely lamp.
As musingly I watch my shadow, lonely and cold, my spirit breaks within me.
Now that my coverlet and my pillow are so lorn: I have naught whereon I can rely.
O shadow, voiceless and wordless! To whom wouldst thou have me vent my sorrow?
Though thou, O shadow! An I make two together, yet that is poor comfort for my grief.
I were better grasp a cup, that thus with my shadow we may be three.
I love thee, I love thee, shadow! Because thou quittest me neither in life nor death, so close is thy companionship.
Even at heaven’s verge and ocean’s corners, thou and I would find it hard to part.
My lord, maybe though now in loneliness I watch the silver lamp, yet our hearts have each the imprint of the other.
I grieve, I do not grieve that I cannot despatch my shadow to consult with you.
I were fain you could meet my shadow and for a while recognize therein my soul.
Ah! My heart is ill-content.
Whether in dream or sleep it is hard to approach thee.
I will feign that I see the lamp-snuff – omen that we shall ever be in each other’s slight. I must not face my shadow as if wounded in spirit.





Why are you so ailing? I see your face shows wan and sallow.
Love, e’er you look for it, can penetrate heart and vitals.
Methinks that heaven and earth gave me a love-fraught destiny, therefore might they certify to my ailment.
Since my disease is like yours, my lord! I must taste of medicines such as yours.
O lover mine! Physics taste so evilly, and when tasted, what is their effect?
To-day bitterness climbs into my heart’s thoughts, for that we two only are in anguish of pain:
Full early our love was death-set: what hope is there for our sore malady?
No path opens before our eyes. Wide, wide is the sea of bitterness!
Could but your fate after death be wed to mine, then would I pay reverent cult to Buddhist idols.
I fear the six channels of my senses are impure: therefore I cannot reach Sukhavati.
In mortal things the mention of the life to come is altogether vanity.
I have naught whereon I may rely.
The green bowers of vice are to me as hell. Why prate of earth’s age and heaven’s longevity?




A rope of love-thoughts

O rope of love-thoughts, draw hither my gallant!
Canst thou but draw him hither, then for my sake do not cast him loose.
Certes the rope-strands are twisted together of heart-fibre, therefore they can bear the strain so long.
If I meet a man who cuts me adrift, then I feel myself befooled.
O rope! Hateful art thou when thou dost drag us apart: love-worthy, when thou drawst us back together.
Yet, since we are tugged at from either side, I know not when we may be united.
All my heart’s love I have entrusted to your keeping:
‘Tis pity, then, that time on time you cut the rope, stirring riot in my heart and bossom.
Would I swear an oath, why need I adjure the mountain? Would I make a covenant, why need I adjure the sea?
It is the heart which must not change.
But if our hearts trend diversely, then even a rope will not unite us.