The Swallow Tower 1

Su, Dong-po (1036 A.D.-1101 A.D.)

    The bright moon is white like frost. The pleasant breeze is gentle like water. The fresh scenery is expansive. Fish jump out of water in the winding harbor. The dew slips off the round lotus leaves. Few people come to appreciate the beauty of this lonesome place. The night drum beats. A fallen leaf jingles. I am awakened from the clouds of faint dream. The night is boundless and indistinct. I pace back and forth in my little garden, but I can barely recover anything from my dreams.

    I am tired of roaming all over China. On the return mountain path I look into distance longing for my old home. The Swallow Tower is empty. Where is the beautiful woman now? The tower cannot even hold swallows. Past and present are like a dream. Have we ever awakened from it? The dream has only old joy and new lament. One day someone may heave a deep sigh for me when facing the night scene of this yellow tower.

1 The prologue of the poem, "The Swallow Tower", written by Ju-yi Bai, says, "The late minister to the emperor, Jian-feng Zhang, had a favorite courtesan name Pan-pan. Good at singing and dancing, she was charming and graceful. After Zhang died, he left an old mansion in Peng City. There was a little tower in the mansion called the Swallow Tower. Pan-pan missed her old love, and never marrying, lived in the tower for more than ten years."

    One day when Dong-po Su stayed in the Swallow Tower for the night, he met Pan-pan in his dream. Consequently, he wrote this poem.