The poems in Shanghai Redemption, by Qiu Xiaolong

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  Poems from Shanghai Redemption, by Qiu Xiaolong Author of poem
1 Around Qingming Occasion, it drizzles
on the heartbroken travellers treading the roads,
“oh where can we find a tavern, please?”
a shepherd buy points to the Apricot Blossom Village.
Du Mu, Tang Dynasty, Born: 803 AD, Chang’an; Died: 852 AD. He is best known for his lyrical and romantic quatrains. Regarded as a major poet during a golden age of Chinese poetry. Qingming – Festival of the Dead.
2 The cloud drifting, obscuring the sun,
it worries me that there’s no visibility of Chang’an.
Li Bai, Born: May 19, 701 AD, Suyab; Died: November 30, 762 AD, Yangtze, China. A Chinese poet of the Tang Dynasty, Li Po (also known as Li Bai, Li Pai, Li T’ai- po, and Li T’ai-pai) Chang’an – capital city where he was employed as a translator by Emperor Xuanzong.
3 The moon bright, the stars sparse,
the black bird flies to the south,
circling the tree three times
without finding a branch to perch itself…
Cao Cao (155—220). Warlord & accomplished poet who rose to power towards the final years of the Eastern Han Dynasty (25—220 CE).
4 Two pathetic souls adrift to the ends of world,
now we meet, though not known to each other before.
Bai Juyi (also Bo Juyi or Po Chü-i; Chinese: 白居易; 772–846) was a renowned Chinese poet and Tang dynasty government official.
5 A new poem over a cup of wine,
the last year’s weather, the unchanged pavilion.
The sun is setting in the west –
how many times?
Helpless that flowers fall.
Swallows return, seemingly known.
I wander along the sweet-scented trail
in the small garden, alone.
Yan Shu (Chinese: 晏殊; pinyin: Yàn Shū; Wade–Giles: Yen Shu, 991 – 1055), Chinese statesman, poet, calligrapher and a literary figure of the Song dynasty.
6 Down and out, I wander around
crossing rivers and lakes
with a cup of wine,
and her waist willowy,
as if capable of dancing
on my lone palm.
Du Mu (Ibid)
7 The tenderness of the green tea leaf between her lips.
Everything is possible, but not pardonable…ethereal
Quoted to Inspector Chen by Qian, Chen’s client.
8 Thanks to the long willow shoot bending
itself for her, she succumbs
to the mistlike catkins caressing
her face, as if touched
by an old friend.
Li Yu, Southern Tang, 10th century. Li Yu (Chinese: 李煜; c. 937[3] – 15 August 978[5]), before 961 known as Li Congjia (李從嘉), also known as Li Houzhu (李後主; literally “Last Ruler Li” or “Last Lord Li”), was the third ruler of the Southern Tang state during imperial China’s Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. He reigned from 961 until 976. He was a representative lyric poet during his era, even to the extent of having been called the “first true master” of the ci form.
9 The sun setting against the gauze curtain,
the dusk drawing nearer,
she sheds tears, alone,
in her magnificent room.
The courtyard appears so deserted,
the spring on the decline,
pear petals fallen, all over the ground –
too much for her
to push open the door.
Liu Fangping, song from Suzhou opera
10 Waiting, she finds her silk stockings
soaked with dewdrops
glistening on the marble palace steps.
Finally, she is moving
to let the crystal-woven curtain fall
when she casts one more glance
at the glamorous autumn moon.
Li Bai, song from Suzhou opera (2)
11 The aspiration of rolling clouds and roaring wind gone,
I am leaning against the dressing table,
waiting on the ripples in your eyes.
Lest “Master Liu” grow despondent,
combing your hair, you pull up
the curtain to the view of the grand Yellow River.
Gong Zizhen, Chinese: 龔自珍; Wade–Giles: Kung Tzu-chen; 1792–1841), courtesy name Seren, literary name (hao) Ding’an), was a Chinese poet, calligrapher and intellectual active in the 19th century whose works both foreshadowed and influenced the modernization movements of the late Qing dynasty.
12 Holding the jade cup,
her bare arms reaching
out of the florid sleeves, drinking,
unaware of her cheeks flushing,
dancing with the moon sinking,
in the willows, singing
until too tired for her
to wave the fan unfolds
peach trees blossoming…
Yan Jidao, (1040-1112). (晏幾道) Son of Yan Shu (Ibid). Similar to his father’s elegant style, Yan Jidao’s poems were full of implicit words, but with deeper and more desolate emotions. Yan Jidao even wrote romantic poems better than his father.


13 The little sparrow hops in
and out the tiny door
of the dainty bamboo cage,
parading about in the dust,
its wings rigorously disciplined,
capable nevermore of flying,
but only of flapping at the air.
A world of self-sufficient, self-containing, barred enclosure –
with rice, water, vegetables,
and light fresh air…enough
for its survival. What’s the point
of its breaking out, alone,
into the unknown?
Cheerful, it peeks back
at its aged benevolent master
with his face shrivelled
into a walnut of satisfied smile.
A flash of the sparrow’s wing
in the light. History keeps
depositing into the forgotten corner
of the park. What is meaningful
means only here and now,
in the little bird’s ecstatic jump
under his blurred gaze…
Inspector Chen (Qiu Xiaoling)
14 Myriads of maple leafs
upon myriads of maple leafs
silhouetted against the bridge,
a few sails return late in the dusk.
How do I miss you?
My thoughts run like
the water in the West River,
flowing eastward, never ending,
day and night.
Tang courtesan Yu Xuanji (pinyin: Yú Xuánjī; Wade–Giles: Yü Hsüan-chi, approximate dates 844–868/869), courtesy names Youwei (Chinese: 幼微; pinyin: Yòuwēi) and Huilan, was a Chinese poet and courtesan of the late Tang dynasty, from Chang’an. She was one of the most famous women poets of Tang, along with Xue Tao, her fellow courtesan.
15 The waning moon hangs on the sparse tung twigs,
the night deep, silent.
An apparition of a solitary wild goose
glides in the dark.
Startled, it turns back,
its sorrow unknown to others.
Trying each of the chilly boughs,
it chooses not to perch.
Freezing, the maple leafs fall
over the Wu River.
Su Shi, 11th century, (8 January 1037 – 24 August 1101), also known as Su Tungpo, was a Chinese writer, poet, painter, calligrapher, pharmacologist, gastronome, and a statesman of the Song dynasty.
16 You left, like a cloud drifting away,
across the river. The memory
of our meeting is like a willow catkin
stuck to the wet ground, after the rain.
Inspector Chen (Qiu Xiaoling)
17 Such stars, but it’s not last night,
for whom you stand against the wind and dew?
Quoted by Inspector Chen (Qiu Xiaoling), author not stated.
18 After our parting tonight,
when can you come again?
Drink the cup,
help yourself to a delicacy.
How many times can you get really drunk?
Enjoy! Seize the moment…
Banned song from Cultural Revolution
19 The wind sighing and vexing
the green ripples,
it is unbearable to see
the beauty ravaged by the grief of time.
Li Jing ? Probably Li Qingzhao (Chinese: 李清照; pinyin: Lǐ Qīngzhào; Wade–Giles: Li Ch’ing-chao; 1084 – ca 1155), pseudonym Yi’an Jushi (易安居士), was a Chinese writer and poet in the Song dynasty. She is considered as one of the greatest woman poet in Chinese history.
20 At the bottom of the river lies still
the broken anchor, which I wash and wipe
for traces of the bygone dynasties.
If the eastern wind had not turned, miraculously,
in favor of General Zhou Yu
the two beauties would have been locked up
in the Bronze Sparrow Tower, deep in the spring.
Du Mu, Tang Dynasty (Ibid)