by Mei Yao-ch'en (1002-1060)
A maid comes running into the house
talking about things beyond belief,
about the sky all turned to blue glass,
the moon to a crystal of black quartz.
It rose a full ten parts round tonight,
but now it's just a bare sliver of light.
My wife hurries off to fry roundcakes,
and my son starts banging on mirrors:
it's awfully shallow thinking, I know,
but that urge to restore is beautiful.
The night deepens. The moon emerges,
then goes on shepherding stars west.
translated from the Chinese by David Hinton
From MOUNTAIN HOME: THE WILDERNESS
POETRY OF ANCIENT CHINA (Counterpoint, 2002)