Zoë Translates

Poems, original and translated.


Parting: to a musician

The midday sun erupts through endless desert clouds As north-bound geese defy the wind and raging snow. Depart, my friend, and ride across the loneliness Towards a world where hearts are leaping for your song. an 8th-century Chinese jueju poem, re-created in alexandrine Original 別董大·其一 高適 千里黃雲白日曛 北風吹雁雪紛紛 莫愁前路無知己 天下誰人不識君


Spring is here. In the soil, Where hooves used to trample, Grasses are about to come out. With unconstrained force of life The grasses, swaying, stretching, Spring up — as if by volition! And they seem to say, “We don’t care. The one who is to grow, grows. Sweet dew is upon us; a warm wind is blowing.

“Two playful orioles…”

Two playful orioles in verdant willows sang; Toward the azure sky a row of egrets soared. The ancient glaciers poured their gleam through windowpanes; Below the doorsteps slept a weary ship just moored. an 8th-century Chinese jueju poem, re-created in alexandrine special thanks to L.J. Original 絕句 兩個黃鸝鳴翠柳 一行白鷺上青天 窗含西嶺千秋雪

A parting song

The rolling green hills and a pale river Have accompanied us along the way. Outside these city walls we must now part And be scattered in wind like scraps of hay. This sunset sees friendship become longing, For neither clouds nor wayfarers can stay. We strain to bid farewell for one last time,

A Buddhist song of cessation

English Lo! Formations have never stayed; Rises and falls mark their being. Now arisen, they are unmade; Blissful therefore is their ceasing. Chinese 吁嗟行若寄 聚散固為真 興衰相替往 喜樂寂然身 Original texts The following texts have been tranliterated in IAST. Pali aniccā vata saṅkhārā uppādavayadhammino | uppajjitvā nirujjhanti tesaṃ vūpasamo sukho ‖ Sanskrit anityā vata saṃskārā


Atop the sheer cliff over waves, The beautiful maid does retire. She shines in her crown of laurel leaves While clasping the murmuring lyre. She pours out her tears in a poem, Her instrument singing along. But sadness still swells in her bosom, And breaches her hold of the song.