Standing alone in Spring, whose courtyard is this?
Briskly, east wind overspills the wall,
A thousand trees of sudden burning snow,
pear blossom’s fragrance scorching lane and trail.
Night descends, they beacon back the moon.
At daybreak, they’re caressed by misty cool.
While Qingming*’s coming, they’re first to grasp Spring’s soul,
making this far-off place beautiful.
I’m wondering: were they beings cast down
to earth, to experience, whole, life’s jail?
In cold night dreams they still remember lightness,
home beyond the cloudy mountains’ rail.
Translated by Jennifer Zeng and Damian Robin
* The Qingming or Ching Ming Festival, also known as Tomb-Sweeping Day in English, is a traditional Chinese festival on the first day of the fifth solar term of the traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar. This makes it the 15th day after the Spring Equinox, either 4 or 5 April in a given year. Other common translations include Chinese Memorial Day and Ancestors' Day.