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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


When I was a girl, I stole this book. It was talismanic and important and I would read it aloud to special souls. I’ve since lost it from my book collection, but thanks to Walter Tragart (who transcribed the above and held onto it for 20 years) I have this poem again. 

Good night.

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


When I was a girl, I stole this book. It was talismanic and important and I would read it aloud to special souls. I’ve since lost it from my book collection, but thanks to Walter Tragart (who transcribed the above and held onto it for 20 years) I have this poem again.


Good night.


Posted on April 15th, 2012
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    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...
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    Deep shit
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