Monday, June 29, 2009

"Song of the Collator's Sword in the Spring Bureau

Elder, inside your casket
     is three feet of water.
This sword once plunged
     into Wu Lake and beheaded a dragon
A slash of brightest moonlight
     shaves the cold dew.
A white-breasted seabird
     tempered into a white pheasant's tail.
Truly this is a sliver
     of Ching-Ko's heart!
Do not let it shine on
     the characters in the Spring Bureau.
Twisted strands of coiling gold
     hang from the hilt.
The sword's brilliant shine
     can sunder an Indigo Field jade.
Draw, and the White King
     of the west will quake--
wailing and wailing, his demon
     mother in the autumn wilds."

--Li Ho (790-816),
translated by Arthur Sze in The Silk Dragon