The Clouds Crossing the Yangtze River (I have lived in Shan-yin City for a
while. Ju-cun Wang asked about my recent writings, so I wrote this poem and sent
it to her.)
Zhang, Yan (1248-1318)
Seen from the tower on the mountain, the distant sky meets the sea. As the
evening tide begins to rise, the wind grows strong. Beyond the curtain the
turtledoves return to their nests in the rain. Across the water the farmers
brandish their Spring hoes to till the fields. The willow trees bloom during the
Pure Brightness Festival 1. The blossoms remind me that it is time
for the arrival of algae in Lake Xi. I still remember my door that concealed
several such willow trees while I lived in seclusion during those years.
I feel sorrowful. On the ancient riverside in this desolate city, to where do
the broken stalk and sparse algae drift? My waistline decreases, but I cannot do
anything about it. My shadow even fears to see a lonesome lamp. I often
anticipate to see the peach-blossom face 2 soon. Why haven't I
recently received her letter which would cheer me up? Even though distant mail
takes a long time to arrive, I wonder why I have not met her in my dreams.
1 The Cold Food Day occurs one or two days before the Pure Brightness. Some
say the purpose of the Cold Food Day is to honor Hermit Zhi-tui Jie. Others say
the day originated from the Zhow dynasty's old tradition of prohibiting fire. On
this day, people are prohibited from using fire in the kitchen and, as a result,
they eat only cold food. The Pure Brightness is the day when a family pays
tribute to its ancestors by visiting their tombs. The date is April 5th or 6th.
Like the spring break in the United States, from the Cold Food Day to the Pure
Brightness, a family gets together to have a field trip or go sightseeing.
Consequently, travelers are most homesick during this time period.
2 "See the peach-blossom face" means "meet Zhang's beautiful lover". A poem
of Hu Cui of the Tang dynasty says, "A woman's face and peach blossoms cast red
light on each other."