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The Garden of Bright Waters by Translated by Edward Powys Mathers

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See, there are two tears quivering at my lids;
I am giving back your pearls.

_From the Chinese of Chang Chi (770-850)._


It rained last night,
But fair weather has come back
This morning.

The green clusters of the palm-trees
Open and begin to throw shadows.

But sorrow drifts slowly down about me.

I come and go in my room,
Heart-heavy with memories.

The neighbour green casts shadows of green
On my blind;
The moss, soaked in dew,
Takes the least print
Like delicate velvet.

I see again a gauze tunic of oranged rose
With shadowy underclothes of grenade red.

How things still live again.

I go and sit by the day balustrade

And do nothing

Except count the plains
And the mountains
And the valleys
And the rivers
That separate from my Spring.

_From the Chinese (early nineteenth century)._


The rain is due to fall,
The wind blows softly.

The branches of the cinnamon are moving,
The begonias stir on the green mounds.

Bright are the flying leaves,
The falling flowers are many.

The wind lifted the dry dust,
And he is lifting the wet dust;
Here and there the wind moves everything

He passes under light gauze
And touches me.

I am alone with the beating of my heart.

There are leagues of sky,
And the water is flowing very fast.

Why do the birds let their feathers
Fall among the clouds?

I would have them carry my letters,
But the sky is long.

The stream flows east
And not one wave comes back with news.

The scented magnolias are shining still,
But always a few are falling.

I close his box on my guitar of jasper
And lay aside my jade flute.

I am alone with the beating of my heart.

Stay with me to-night,
Old songs.

_From the Chinese of Liu Chi (1311-1375)._


Reading in my book this cold night,
I have forgotten to go to sleep.
The perfumes have died on the gilded bed-cover;
The last smoke must have left the hearth
When I was not looking.
My beautiful friend snatches away the lamp.
Do you know what the time is?

_From the Chinese of Yuan Mei (1715-1797)._



Winter scourges his horses
Through the North,
His hair is bitter snow
On the great wind.
The trees are weeping leaves
Because the nests are dead,
Because the flowers were nests of scent
And the nests had singing petals
And the flowers and nests are dead.

Your voice brings back the songs
Of every nest,
Your eyes bring back the sun
Out of the South,
Violets and roses peep
Where you have laughed the snow away
And kissed the snow away,
And in my heart there is a garden still
For the lost birds.

_Song of Daghestan._



Lonely rose out-splendouring legions of roses,
How could the nightingales behold you and not sing?

_By Rustwell of Georgia (from the Tariel, twelfth century)._



Love brings the tiny sweat into your hair
Like stars marching in the dead of night.

_From the Hindustani of Mir Taqui (eighteenth century)._


I desire the door-sill of my beloved
More than a king's house;
I desire the shadow of the wall where her beauty hides
More than the Delhi palaces.
Why did you wait till spring;
Were not my hands already full of red-thorned roses?
My heart is yours,
So that I know not which heart I hear sighing:
Yaquin, Yaquin, Yaquin, foolish Yaquin.

_From the Hindustani of Yaquin (eighteenth century)._


Joy fills my eyes, remembering your hair, with tears,
And these tears roll and shine;
Into my thoughts are woven a dark night with raindrops
And the rolling and shining of love songs.

_From the Hindustani of Mir Taqui (eighteenth century)._


Ever your rose face or black curls are with Shaguil;
Because your curls are night and your face is day.

_From the Hindustani of Shaguil (eighteenth century)._


Now that the wind has taught your veil to show your eyes and hair,
All the world is bowing down to your dear head;
Faith has crept away to die beside the tomb of prayer,
And men are kneeling to your hair, and God is dead.

_From the Hindustani of Hatifi (eighteenth century)._


A love-sick heart dies when the heart is whole,
For all the heart's health is to be sick with love.

_From the Hindustani of Miyan Jagnu (eighteenth century)._



Tears in the moonlight,
You know why,
Have marred the flowers
On my rose sleeve.
Ask why.

_From the Japanese of Hide-Yoshi._


The crows have wakened me
By cawing at the moon.
I pray that I shall not think of him;
I pray so intently
That he begins to fill my whole mind.
This is getting on my nerves;
I wonder if there is any of that wine left.

_Japanese Street Song._


Although I shall not see his face
For the low riding of the ship,
The three armorial oak-leaves on his cloak
Will be enough.
But what if I make a mistake
And call to the wrong man?
Or make no sign at all,
And it is he?

_Japanese Street Song._


My desires are like the white snows on Fuji
That grow but never melt.
I am becoming proud of my bad reputation;
And the more men say,
We cannot understand why she loves him,
The less I care.
I am sure that in a very short time
I shall give myself to him.

_Japanese Street Song._


Remembering what passed
Under the scent of the plum-tree,
I asked the plum-tree for tidings
Of that other.
Alas ... the cold moon of spring....

_From the Japanese of Fujiwara Ietaka. (1158-1237)._


In the fifth month,
When orange-trees
Fill all the world with scent,
I think of the sleeve
Of a girl who loved me.

_From the Japanese of Nari-hira._


The chief flower
Of the plum-tree of this isle
Opens to-night....
Come, singing to the moon,
In the third watch.

_From the Japanese of a Courtesan of Nagasaki._


In a life where the clocks
Are slow or fast,
It is a pleasant thing
To die together
As we are dying.

_From the Japanese of the Wife of Bes-syo Ko-saburo Naga-haru, (sixteenth


I was gathering
Leaves of the Wakana
In springtime.
Why did the snow fall
On my dress?

_From the Japanese of the Mikado Ko-ko Ten-no, (ninth century)._


Your arm should only be
A spring night's dream;
If I accepted it to rest my head upon
There would be rumours
And no delight.

_From the Japanese of the daughter of Taira-no Tsu-gu-naka._


Was one night,
And that a night
Without much sleep,
Enough to make me love
All the life long?

_From the Japanese of the wife of the Mikado Sui-toka In
(twelfth century)._


Let the wind's breath
Blow in the glades of the clouds
Until they close;
So that the beauty of these girls
May not escape.

_From the Japanese of So-dzyo Hend-zyo._


This night,
Long like the drooping feathers
Of the pheasant,
The chain of mountains,
Shall I sleep alone?

_From the Japanese of Kaik-no Motto-no Hitomaro
(seventh and eighth centuries)._



Here is the wind in the morning;
The kind red face of God
Is looking over the hill
We are climbing.

To-morrow we are going to marry
And work and play together,
And laugh together at things
Which would not amuse our neighbours.

_Song of Kafiristan._


Your eyes are black like water-melon pips,
Your lips are red like the red flesh of water-melons,
Your loins are smooth like smooth-rind water-melons.

You are more beautiful than my favourite among mares,
Your buttocks are sleeker and firmer,
Like her your movements are on legs of light steel.

Come and sit at my hearth, and I will celebrate your coming;
I will choose from the hundred flocks of each a hundred,
Passing at the foot of the Himalaya,

The two most silky and most beautiful great sheep.
We will go to the temple and sacrifice one of the two
To the god Pandu, that you may have many children;

And I will kill the other and roast it whole,
My most fair rose-tree serving as a spit.
I will ask the prettiest eaters and the prettiest drinkers;

And while they eat and drink greatly for three days,
I will wind silver rings upon your arms and feet
And hang a chain of river gold about your neck.

_Popular Song of Kafiristan._



You do not want me, Zohrah.
Is it because I am maimed?
Yet Tamour-leng was maimed,
Going on crippled feet,
And he conquered the vast of the world.

You do not want me, Zohrah.
Is it because I am maimed?
Yet I have one arm to fight for you,
One arm to crush you to my rough breast,
One arm to break men for you.

It was to shield you from the Khargis
That I drag this stump in the long days.
It has been so with my women;
They would have made you a toy for heat.

After their chief with his axe once swinging
Cut my left arm, that, severed, bloody, and dead,
Yet struggled on the ground trying to guard you,
I have had pain for long in my arm that's lost.

Since the silk nets of your grape-lustrous eyes
Ensnared this heart that did not try to guard,
Ever I have a great pain in my heart that's lost.
You do not want me, Zohrah.

_Kazack poem of the Chief Gahuan-Beyg (1850-1885)._



How can a heart play any more with life,
After it has found a woman and known tears?

In vain I shut my windows against the moonlight;
I have estranged sleep.

The flower of her face is growing in the shadow
Among warm and rustling leaves....

I see the sunlight on her house,
I see her curtains of vermilion silk....

Here is the almond-coloured dawn;
And there is dew on the petals of my night flower.

_Lyric of Korea._


I dreamed that I was touching her eyelids, and I awoke
To find her sleepy temples of rose jade
For one heart-beat....

Though the moonlight beats upon the sea,
There is no boat.

_Lyric of Korea._


As water runs in the river, so runs time;
And ever my eyes are wasted of her presence.

The red flowers of the second moon were yesterday;
To-day the earth has spots of blood, and there are no flowers.

The wild geese were harnessed to the autumn moon;
They have come, I heard their crying, and they are gone.

They have passed and given me no message;
I only hear the falling, falling noise of white rain.

_Song of Korea._



Paradise, my darling, know that paradise,
The Prophet-given paradise after death,
Is far and very mysterious and most high;
My habits would be upset in such a place.

Without impiety, I should be mortally weary
If I went there alone, without my wife;
An ugly crowding of inferior females,
What should I do with the houris?

What should I do with those tall loaded fruit-trees,
Seeing I could not give the fruit to you?
What by the freshness of those blue streams,
Seeing my face reflected there alone?

And it might be worse if you came with me,
For all of Allah's Chosen would desire you.
And if Mahomet threw his handkerchief
And took you up and loved you for himself?

Eyes of my eyes, how could I then defend you?
I could not be at ease and watch him love you;
And if I mutinied against the Prophet,
He, being zealous to love you in his peace,

Would rise and send me hurrying
Back by the sword-blade thinness of the bridge
From paradise to earth, and in the middle
Flick me down sideways to the fires of hell.

My skin would cook and be renewed for ever
Where murderers were burning and renewing;
And evil souls, my only crime being love,
Would burn me and annoy me and destroy me.

If I were there and you in paradise,
I could not even make my prayer to Allah
That in his justice he should give me back
My paradise.

Let us love, therefore, on the earth together;
Our love is our garden, let us take great care,
Whisper and call pet names and kiss each other
To live our paradise as long as may be.

_Love Ballad of Kurdistan._



Ever at the far side of the current
The fishes hurl and swim,
For pelicans and great birds
Watch and go fishing
On the bank-side.

No man dare go alone
In the dim great forest,
But if I were as strong
As the green tiger
I would go.

The holy swan on the sea
Wishes to pass over with his wings,
But I think it would be hard
To go so far.

If you are still pure,
Tell me, darling;
If you are no longer
Clear like an evening star,
You are the heart of a great tree
Eaten by insects.
Why do you lower your eyes?
Why do you not look at me?

When the blue elephant
Finds a lotus by the water-side
He takes it up and eats it.
Lemons are not sweeter than sugar.

If I had the moon at home
I would open my house wide
To the four winds of the horizon,
So that the clouds that surround her
Should escape and be shaken away.

_Song of the Love Nights of Laos._


Seeing that I adore you,
Scarf of golden flowers,
Why do you stay unmarried?
As the liana at a tree's foot
That quivers to wind it round,
So do I wait for you. I pray you
Do not detest me....

I have come to say farewell.
Farewell, scarf;
Garden Royal
Where none may enter,
Gaudy money
I may not spend.

_Song of the Love Nights of Laos._


Fair journey, O holy swan with gold wings;
O holy swan that I love, fair journey!
Carry this letter for me to the new land,
The place where my lover labours.
If it rains fly low beneath the trees,
If the sun is hot fly in the forest shadows;
If any ask you where you are going
Do not answer.
You who rise for so long a journey,
Avoid the roofs at the hour when the sun is red.
Carry this letter to the new land of my lover.
If he is faithful, give it to him;
If he has forgotten, read it to him only
And let the lightning burn it afterwards.

_Song of the Love Nights of Laos._



If you do not want your heart
Burnt at a small flame
Like a spitted sheep,
Fly the love of women.
Fire burns what it touches,
But love burns from afar.

_Folk Song of Manchuria._


It is hard for a man to tell
The hidden thought in his friend's heart,
And the thought in a man's own heart
Is a thing darker.

If you have seen a woman's heart
Bare to your eyes,
Go quickly away and never tell
What you have seen there.

_Street Song of Manchuria._



_The greater and the lesser ills:_
He waved his grey hand wearily
Back to the anger of the sea,
Then forward to the blue of hills.

Out from the shattered barquenteen
The black frieze-coated sailors bore
Their dying despot to the shore
And wove a crazy palanquin.

They found a valley where the rain
Had worn the fern-wood to a paste
And tiny streams came down in haste
To eastward of the mountain chain.

And here was handiwork of Cretes,
And olives grew beside a stone,
And one slim phallos stood alone
Blasphemed at by the paroquets.

Hard by a wall of basalt bars
The night came like a settling bird,
And here he wept and slept and stirred
Faintly beneath the turning stars.

Then like a splash of saffron whey
That spills from out a bogwood bowl
Oozed from the mountain clefts the whole
Rich and reluctant light of day.

And when he neither moved nor spoke
And did not heed the morning call,
They laid him underneath the wall
And wrapped him in a purple cloak.

_From the Modern Persian._


Lily of Streams lay by my side last night
And to my prayers gave answers of delight;
Day came before our fairy-tale was finished,
Because the tale was long, not short the night.

_From the Persian of Abu-Said (978-1062)._


Roses are a wandering scent from heaven.
Rose-seller, why do you sell your roses?
For silver? But with the silver from your roses
What can you buy so precious as your roses?

_From the Persian of Abu-Yshac (middle of the tenth century)._


I asked my love: "Why do you make yourself so beautiful?"
"To please myself.
I am the eye, the mirror, and the loveliness;
The loved one and the lover and the love."

_From the Persian of Abu-Said (978-1062)._


When I am cold and undesirous and my lids lie dead,
Come to watch by the body that loved you and say:
This is _Rondagui_, whom I killed and my heart regrets for ever.

_From the Persian of Rondagui (tenth century)._


See you have dancers and wine and a girl like one of the angels
(If they exist),
And find a clear stream singing near its birth and a bed of moss
(If moss exists),
For loving and singing to the dancers and drinking and forgetting hell
(If hell exists),
Because this is a pastime better than paradise
(If paradise exists).

_From the Persian of Omar Khayyam (eleventh century)._



I made search for you all my life, and when I found you
There came a trouble on me,
So that it seemed my blood escaped
And my life ran back from me
And my heart slipped into you.
It seems, also, that you are the moon
And that I am at the top of a tree.
If I had wings I would spread them as far as you,
Dear bud, that will not open
Though the kisses of the holy bird knock at your petal door.

_Song of Siam._



Kill me if you will not love me.
Here are flints;
Ram down the heavy bullet, little leopard,
On the black powder.

Only you must not shoot me through the head,
Nor touch my heart;
Because my head is full of the ways of you
And my heart is dead.

_Song of Syria._



Young man,
If you try to eat honey
On the blade of a knife,
You will cut yourself.

If you try to taste honey
On the kiss of a woman,
Taste with the lips only,
If not, young man,
You will bite your own heart.

_Song of the Tatars._



The Khan.

The son of the Khan.

The love of the son of the Khan.

The veil of the love of the son of the Khan.

The clear breeze that lifted the veil of the love of the son of
the Khan.

The buds of fire that scented the clear breeze that lifted the
veil of the love of the son of the Khan.

The Archer Prince whose love kissed the buds of fire that
scented the clear breeze that lifted the veil of the love
of the son of the Khan.

And the girl married the Archer Prince whose love kissed the
buds of fire that scented the clear breeze that lifted the
veil of the love of the son of the Khan.

_Street Song of Thibet._



Your face upon a drop of purple wine
Shows like my soul poised on a bead of blood.

_From the Turkic of Hussein Baikrani._


Clear diamond heart,
I have been hunting death
Among the swords.

But death abhors my shadow,
And I come back
Wounded with memories.

Your eyes,
For steel is amorous of steel
And there are bright blue sparks.

Your lips,
I see great bloody roses
Cut in white dead breasts.

Your bed,
For I see wrestling bodies
Under the evening star.

_From the Turkic._


Not a stone from my black sling
Ever misses anything,
But the arrows of your eye
Surer shoot and faster fly.

Not one creature that I hit
Lingers on to know of it,
But the game that falls to love
Lives and lingers long enough.

_From the Turkic._



My dreams are bubbles of cool light,
Sunbeams mingled in the light green
Waters of your bath.

Through fretted spaces in the olive wood
My love adventures with the white sun.

I dive into the ice-coloured shadows
Where the water is like light blue flowers
Dancing on mirrors of silver.

The sun rolls under the waters of your bath
Like the body of a strong swimmer.

And now you cool your feet,
Which have the look of apple flowers,
Under the water on the oval marble
Coloured like yellow roses.

Your scarlet nipples
Waver under the green kisses of the water,
Flowers drowned in a mountain stream.

_From the Modern Turkish._


Lions tremble at my claws;
And I at a gazelle with eyes.

_From the Turkish of Sultan Selim I._


Before you love,
Learn to run through snow
Leaving no footprint.

_From the Turkish._


Here are the doleful rains,
And one would say the sky is weeping
The death of the tolerable weather.

Tedium cloaks the wit like a veil of clouds
And we sit down indoors.

Now is the time for poetry coloured with summer.
Let it fall on the white paper
As ripe flowers fall from a perfect tree.

I will dip down my lips into my cup
Each time I wet my brush.

And keep my thoughts from wandering as smoke wanders,
For time escapes away from you and me
Quicker than birds.

_From the Chinese of Tu Fu (712-770)._



I am hoping that some readers will look on this collection primarily as
a book of poems. The finding and selection of material and the shaping
of the verses is my principal part in it. Most of the songs have been
written from, or by comparing, the literal translations of French and
Italian scholars, checked wherever possible by my own knowledge. When my
first and very great debt to these has been stated, there remains my
debt to the late John Duncan, to Mr. J. Wing, and to a friend, a
distinguished writer both in Persian and Turkish, who wishes to remain
unnamed. The kindness of these writers lies in trusting their work to my
translation and helping me in that task. My book also owes much to
suggestions prompted by the wide learning of Mr. L. Cranmer-Byng. My
final debt is to him and to another generous critic. I have arranged my
poems in the alphabetical order of their countries, and added short
notes wherever I considered them necessary, at the instance of some
kindly reviewers of an earlier book, which was not so arranged
and provided.


SIKANDER, Alexander the Great.

SHALIBAGH, the notable garden of Shalimar in Lahore, planted by Shah
Jahan in 1637.

ABDEL QADIR GILANI, Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani, founder of the Qadirite
order of the Dervishes, twelfth century.


K'IEN NI and CHIK N: the legend of these two stars comes from China
and is told in Japan. Readers are referred to that section of Mr. L.
Cranmer-Byng's _A Lute of Jade_ which deals delightfully with Po-Ch-i;
and to Lafcadio Hearn's _Romance of the Milky Way._


ANTAR, the hero Antar Ebn Cheddad Ebn Amr Corad, who lived in the late
sixth and early seventh centuries, owes his European reputation to
_Siret Antar_, the Adventures of Antar, or more exactly the Conduct of
Antar, written by Abul-Moyyed "El Antari" in the twelfth century. This
book tells of the fighter's feats in war and of his love for his cousin
Abla; and these are the themes of Antar's own poems.

AN ESCAPE: in this poem Abu Nuas, the Court poet, tells of an adventure
of the Khalif Haroun. There is a story that the Khalif, being set back
by the answer of his lady, called his poets in the morning and bade them
write a poem round the phrase, "Words of a night to bring the day." All
were rewarded for their work save Abu Nuas; and he was condemned to
death for spying through keyholes on his master. But after he had proved
an alibi, he also was rewarded.

"JOHN DUNCAN was a lowland Scot, who lived in Edinburgh until he was
between twenty and twenty-five years old. He was educated at one of the
Scots schools, and knew his way about the University if he was not
actually a student there. He certainly had enough money to live on. A
love affair in which he must have been infamously treated caused him to
leave Scotland. Within a year or two he was an established member of a
small tribe of nomadic Arabs, and eventually he became in speech and
appearance one of them, living their lazy, pastoral life and travelling
up and down with them the whole line of the southwest coast of the
Persian Gulf. Before his death, which occurred last year, at the age of
forty-two or forty-three, he had become acquainted with the whole of
habitable Arabia.

"Let Mr. Mathers take up the story as he told it to me: 'He married an
Arab, and all his forty-odd poems are addressed to her. I saw only a
snapshot of her, which showed her to be beautiful. In her he certainly
found healing for the wound his abnormally fiery and sensitive nature
had taken from the first woman. She pulled together an intellect rather
easily subdued. I only knew him after her death (his reason for
travelling to this country), and a dazed, utterly unpractical and
uninterested habit of mind, which alternated with his brilliance of
speech and to a less degree of thought, was probably a reversion to the
psychic state which his marriage had cured.

"'Like so many to whom life has at one time given a paralysing shock,
Duncan was extremely reticent, save when he could lead the conversation,
and be confidential at points of his own choosing; and he was not an
easy man to question. The disappointment which had driven him from his
country certainly made him more bitter against the British than any
other man I have listened to. All his considerable wit and the natural
acid of his thought were directed against our ideas, institutions,
and beliefs.

"'His one sane enthusiasm, English lyric verse, of whose depths,
main-stream, and back-waters his knowledge was profound, formed one-half
of his conversation.

"'His English in talking was rich and varied, and it was an ironic
caprice which made him refuse to write in that language. I doubt,
though, whether he would have composed with ease in any tongue, for he
found it hard to concentrate, and his small stock of verse was the
outcome of ten years of unoccupied life. He approved, rather mockingly,
my promise to try to find an English equivalent for some of them; and I
think I have copies of all he wrote.

"'One not acquainted with the man might find them rather hard to render,
as, had he been an Arab actually, still he would have been the most
unconventional of poets, neglecting form and the literary language.'"

My most cordial thanks are due to The Bookworm, of the _Weekly
Dispatch_, for permission to make this long quotation from an article
headed, "The Strange Story of John Duncan, the Arab-Scot," which
appeared over his _nom de plume_ in the issue of that newspaper for
March 30, 1919.


J. WING: I have already translated three of this writer's poems:
"English Girl," "Climbing after Nectarines," and "Being together at
Night." These may be found in _Coloured Stars_. Mr. Wing is an
American-born Chinese and practises the profession of a valet.


THE CLOCKS OF DEATH: this poem is a _zi-sei_, or lyric made at the point
of death. Naga-Haru committed suicide after an unsuccessful defence of
the strong castle Mi-Ki against Hashiba Hideyoshi in 1580. His wife
followed his example, composing this poem as she died.

WAKANA, the turnip cabbage, whose leaves are eaten in early spring. The
Mikado is lamenting a sudden realisation that he is too old for
his love.

THE CUSHION: the poetess, daughter of Tsu-gu-naka, lord of Su-Wo, while
at a party, asked for a cushion. A certain Iye-tada offered his arm for
her to lean her head against, and she answered with these lines.

STREET SONGS: the three poems which I have so called are written in
everyday colloquial Japanese. The words of the old language, which are
the ornament of literary verse, are almost entirely excluded from these
songs. In them one finds a superabundance of auxiliaries, and the
presence of these marks a clear line between the literary and the


TAMOUR-LENG, Tamerlane. The facts of "You Do Not Want Me" are
historical; but it should be added that Gahuan-Beyg succeeded in
overcoming Zohrah's indifference, and that a few months after their
marriage he beheaded her with his own hand for speaking to another man.


THE LOVE NIGHTS OF LAOS, "Wan-Pak" Nights, at the eighth evening of the
waxing or waning of the moon, when even Buddha has no fault to find with
love-making in the thickets. Songs, of which I have translated three,
are sung on these nights to the accompaniments of the "Khane," a
pan-pipe of seven flutes; some being reserved for the singing of the
wandering bands of girls, and others for answer by the youths.


THE ROSES, this rubai made Abu Yshac famous. He died at least twenty
years before the birth of Omar Khayyam. Readers will have been struck by
the similarity of idea in "The Roses" and in two lines in
Fitzgerald's Rubaiyat:

I often wonder what the vintners buy
One-half so precious as the goods they sell.


THE LOVE OF THE ARCHER PRINCE: this form of poem, with one rhyme and
repetitive and increasing lines, is a familiar one in Thibet; and thence
it has entered Kafiristan and become a popular manner of composition
Archipelago. English readers will remember an analogous poem, "The House
that Jack built."

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