Thursday, 6 October 2011

Su Wu - poem to his wife

Su Wu - painting by Zhou Shunkai

Since our hair was plaited and we became man and wife
The love between us was never broken by doubt.
So let us be merry this night together,
Feasting and playing while the good time lasts.

I suddenly remember the distance that I must travel;
I spring from bed and look out to see the time.
The stars and planets are all grown dim in the sky;
Long, long is the road; I cannot stay.
I am going on service, away to the battle-ground,
And I do not know when I shall come back.
I hold your hand with only a deep sigh;
Afterwards, tears - in the days when we are parted.
With all your might enjoy the spring flowers,
But do not forget the time of our love and pride.
Know that if I live, I will come back again,
And if I die, we will go on thinking of each other.

Su Wu (circa 100 BC)
Translated from the Chinese by Arthur Waley


James Higham said...

It reads as if it could have been today really.

A K Haart said...

JH - yes, that's what makes it so poignant I suppose.