For autumn sounds, you must go to Hsiang-Hu’s alleys
For plum trees, to the West Lake hermit’s house
If you don’t feel like it, don’t go at all
Can a dry heart dream of bathing in the Heavenly River?
Can the hundred poems on plum blossoms hold one flowers’ beauty?
I grow old, impatient with my idle singing
Yet the poems burst out like these chrysanthemums
I have forgetten myself and the world and everything
I sit here too long, my bed must be cold
In the mountains, there is no calendar to mark the late season
But I know it’s the Double Ninth : chrysanthemums are blooming
Dew-spattered faces to the sun, they bloom every year
Laughing at those who don’t see the miracle of flowers
I put chrysanthemums in my hair and go to bed
—from A Thousand Years of Vietnamese Poetry translated by Ngọc Bích Nguŷẽn, Burton Raffel, and W. S. Merwin