Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Terrace in the Snow

In the golden twilight the rain
Was like silk threads. During the night
It cleared. The wind fell. It grew
Colder. My covers felt damp
And cold. Without my knowing it,
The snow had drifted into
The room like heaps of salt. At
The fifth watch, in the first flush
Of dawn, I close the curtain
Of the study. During the
Rest of the night I listen
To the ice, warping the colored
Tiles of the roof. In the morning
I sweep the Northern terrace
And look out at Saddle Peak.
It is clear of clouds and I
Can see both summits. Above
The village in the morning
Sunlight, crows begin to circle.
The mud of the streets is covered
With white. No cart track has marked it.
Ice has turned the shop roofs to
White jade. Snow has filled the doorways
With rice. The last cicadas
Have long since gone to earth. Now
They will have to dig a thousand
Feet deeper. Some clouds pile up,
The color of dried moss. My
Chest bothers me again.
I feel I have lost the
Ability to write.
The icicles on the caves
Drone in the wind like the swords
Of murderers.

                                    — Su Tung P’o

From One Hundred Poems from the Chinese, by Kenneth Rexroth.

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