Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
After How Many Years
By Florence Ayscough and Amy Lowell, trans.
From “Chinese Written Wall Pictures”

Li Hai-ku—Nineteenth Century


THE WILLOWS near the roadside rest-house are soft with new-burst leaves.
I saunter along the river path,
Listening to the occasional beating of the ferry drum.
Clouds blow and separate,
And between them I see the watch towers        5
Of the distant city
They come in official coats
To examine my books.
Months go by;
Years slide backwards and disappear.        10
I shut my eyes
And think of the road I have come,
And of the spring weeds
Choking the fields of my house.        15

The rain has stopped.
The clouds drive in a new direction.
The sand is so dry and hard that my wooden shoes ring upon it
As I walk.
The flowers in the wind are very beautiful.        20
A little stream quietly draws a line
Through the sand.
Every household is drunk with sacrificial wine,
And every field is tall with millet
And pale young wheat.        25
I have not much business.
It is a good day.
Ha! Ha!
I will write a poem
On all this sudden brightness.        30

Hoar frost is falling,
And the water of the river runs clear.
The moon has not yet risen,
But there are many stars.
On the opposite bank        35
Autumn lamps are burning in the windows.
I am sick,
Sick with all the illnesses there are.
I can bear this cold no longer,
And a great pity for my whole past life        40
Fills my mind.
The boat has started at last.
Oh, be careful not to run foul
Of the fishing-nets!

I was lonely in the cold valleys
Where I was stationed.
But I am still lonely,
And when no one is near
I sigh.
My gluttonous wife rails at me        50
To guard her bamboo shoots.
My son has neglected
The vegetables.
Oh yes,
Old red rice can satisfy hunger,        55
And poor people can buy muddy, unstrained wine
On credit.
But the pile of land-tax bills
Is growing;
I will go over and see my neighbor,        60
Leaning on my staff.

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