Down South

     After the Chinese of Li Yü (d. 978 CE)

Down South, they know what to do with springtime.
There, when my thoughts turn away
     from duty and empire, I imagine myself,
where the spring is already in progress.
Pleasure boats are in every lake now,
     the er-hu fiddles a-hum, the flute girls
exchanging shy looks with the young scholars.
The green-faced rivers are drunk with willows,
towns dust-clogged with their yellow catkins,
more flowers abloom than eye or hand can capture.
Busy are those who love this blossoming,
    busier still their sleepless nights of loving.    


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