Preface:— After I parted with Yüan Chen, I suddenly dreamt
one night that I saw him. When I awoke, I found
that a letter from him had just arrived and, enclosed in it, a poem on the paulovnia flower.
We talked together in the Yung--shou Temple ;
We parted to the north of the Hsin-ch'ang dyke.
Going home — I shed a few tears,
Grieving about things, — not sorry for you.
Long, long the road to Lan-t'ien ;
You said yourself you would not be able to write.
Reckoning up your halts for eating and sleeping —
By this time you've crossed the Shang mountains.
Last night the clouds scattered away ;
A thousand leagues, the same moonlight scene.
When dawn came, I dreamt I saw your face ;
It must have been that you were thinking of me.
In my dream, I thought I held your hand
And asked you to tell me what your thoughts were.
And you said: " I miss you bitterly,
But there 's no one here to send to you with a letter.''
When I awoke, before I had time to speak,
A knocking on the door sounded " Doong, doong! "
They came and told me a messenger from Shang-chou
Had brought a letter, — a single scroll from you !
Up from my pillow I suddenly sprang out of bed,
And threw on my clothes, all topsy-turvy.
I undid the knot and saw the letter within;
A single sheet with thirteen lines of writing.
At the top it told the sorrows of an exile's heart;
Ivt the bottom it described the pains of separation.
The sorrows and pains took up so much space
There was no room left to talk about the weather!
But you said that when you wrote
You were staying for the night to the east of Shang-chou ;
Sitting alone, lighted by a solitary candle
Lodging in the mountain hostel of Yang-Ch'eng.
Night was late when you finished writing,
The mountain moon was slanting towards the west.
What is it lies aslant across the moon?
A single tree of purple pmdovnia flowers —
Paulovnia flowers just on the point of falling
Are a symbol to express " thinking of an absent friend."
Lovingly — you wrote on the back side.
To send in the letter, your " Poem of the Paulovnia Flower."
The Poem of the Paulovnia Flower has eight rhymes ;
Yet these eight couplets have cast a spell on my heart.
They have taken hold of this morning's thoughts
And carried them to yours, the night you wrote your letter.
The whole poem I read three times ;
Each verse ten times I recite.
So precious to me are the fourscore words
That each letter changes into a bar of gold !