Fallen Flowers 1

Li, Shang Yin    (812? A.D.-858 A.D.)

The guests in the penthouse have all left.
The falling flowers in the little garden drift in the air.
The flowers gradually cover the winding path,
Making random patterns on the ground.
Falling like confetti,
The flowers seem to say good-bye to the setting sun.
Heartbroken as I am,
I cannot bear to sweep them away.
I wish I could stop them from falling,
But the blossoms on the trees become more and more sparse.
The flowers' hearts strive toward beauty and the spirit of Spring,
But their fate is to flutter down and dampen clothing 2.

1 Li had the ambition to serve his country when he was young. He was a member of Party N, but married the daughter of a member of the opposite party, L. Thus, he was considered a traitor by Party N. Due to his old affiliation, he also never gained the trust of Party L. His political career was thereby doomed. In this poem, Li compares himself to fallen flowers and laments that his youth had passed and his ambitions could not be realized.

2 This line has a double meaning. It can mean that flowers cling to the clothes. It can also mean that one is sentimental and sheds tears when watching the flowers fall.