Taiyu Predicting Her Own Death
Fly, fly ye faded and broken dreams
Of fragrance, for the spring is gone!
Behold the gossamer entwine the screens,
And wandering catkins kiss the stone.
Here comes the maiden from out her chamber door,
Whose secret no one shall share.
She gathers the trodden blossoms lingeringly,
And says to them her votive prayer.
I smell the scent of elm seeds and the willow
Where once did blush the peach and pear.
When next they bloom in their new-made spring dress,
She may be gone—no one knows where.
Sweet are the swallow’s nests, whose labors of love
This spring these eaves and girders grace.
Next year they’ll come and see the mistress’s home
To find her gone—without a trace.
The frost and cutting wind in whirling cycle
Hurtle through the seasons’ round.
How but a while ago these flowers did smile
Then quietly vanished without a sound.
With stifled sobs she picks the wilted blooms,
And stands transfixed and dazed hourlong,
And sheds her scalding tears which shall be changed
Into the cuckoo’s heartbreak song.
But the cuckoo is silent in the twilight eve,
And she returns to her lone home.
The flickering lamp casts shadows upon the wall,
And night rain patters, bed unwarmed.
Oh, ask not why and wherefore she is grieved.
For loving spring, her heart is torn
That it should have arrived without warning,
And just as noiselessly is gone.
I heard last night a mournful wail and I knew
It was the souls of parting flowers,
Harried and reluctant and all in a rush,
Bidding their last farewell hours.
Oh, that I might take winged flight to heaven,
With these beauties in my trust!
‘Twere better I buried you undefiled,
Than let them trample you to dust.
Now I take the shovel and bury your scented breath,
A-wondering when my turn shall be.
Let me be silly and weep atop your grave,
For next year who will bury me?
Oh, look upon these tender, fragile beauties,
Of perfumed flesh and bone and hair.
The admirer shan’t be there when her time is up,
And the admired shall no longer care!
As blossoms fade and fly across the sky,
Who pities the faded red, the scent that has been?
Softly the gossamer floats over spring pavilions,
Gently the willow fluff wafts to the embroidered screen.
A girl in her chamber mourns the passing of spring,
No relief from anxiety her poor heart knows;
Hoe in hand she steps through her portal,
Loath to tread on the blossom as she comes and goes.
Willows and elms, fresh and verdant,
Care not if peach and plum blossom drift away;
Next year the peach and plum blossom will bloom again,
But her chamber may stand empty on that day.
By the third month the scented nests are built,
But the swallows on the beam are heartless all;
Next year, though once again you may peck the buds,
From the beam of an empty room your nest will fall.
Each year for three hundred and sixty days
The cutting wind and biting frost contend.
How long can beauty flower fresh and fair?
In a single day wind can whirl it to its end.
Fallen, the brightest blooms are hard to find;
With aching heart their grave-digger comes now
Alone, her hoe in hand, her secret tears
Falling like drops of blood on each bare bough.
Dusk falls and the cuckoo is silent;
Her hoe brought back, the lodge is locked and still;
A green lamp lights the wall as sleep enfolds her,
Cold rain pelts the casement and her quilt is chill.
What causes my two-fold anguish?
Love for spring and resentment of spring;
For suddenly it comes and suddenly goes,
Its arrival unheralded, noiseless its departing.
Last night from the courtyard floated a sad song--
Was it the soul of blossom, the soul of birds,
Hard to detain, the soul of blossom or birds?
For blossoms have no assurance, birds no words.
I long to take wing and fly
With the flowers to earth’s uttermost bound;
And yet at earth’s uttermost bound
Where can a fragrant burial mound be found?
Better shroud the fair petals in silk
With clean earth for their outer attire;
For pure you came and pure shall you go,
Not sinking into some foul ditch or mire.
Now you are dead I come to bury you;
None has divined the day when I shall die;
Men laugh at my folly in burying fallen flowers,
But who will bury me when dead I lie?
See, when spring draws to a close and flowers fall,
This is the season when beauty must ebb and fade;
The day that spring takes wing and beauty fades
Who will care for the fallen blossom or dead maid?
杨宪益（1915年1月10日－2009年11月23日），生于天津，祖籍安徽盱眙(今属江苏省淮安市)鲍集镇梁集村，中国著名翻译家、外国文学研究专家、诗人。戴乃迭，原名Gladys B.Tayler, 婚后更名为Gladys Yang，1919年戴乃迭生于北京一个英国传教士家庭。戴乃迭七岁时返回英国，在教会中学接受教育。1937年戴乃迭考入牛津大学，最初学习法语语言文学，后转攻中国语言文学，是牛津大学首位中文学士。戴乃迭女士是中国文学出版社英籍老专家、在国际上享有崇高声誉的翻译家和中外文化交流活动家，1999年11月18日逝世。杨宪益与夫人戴乃迭（于1940年在重庆举办婚礼）合作翻译全本《红楼梦》、全本《儒林外史》等多部中国历史名著，在国外皆获得好评，产生了广泛影响。