Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A LETTER: A MANDARIN TO HIS WIFE, by JESSIE MCINTOSH BROWN



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A LETTER: A MANDARIN TO HIS WIFE, by            
First Line: A willow stirs in the courtyard
Last Line: And am refreshed.


A willow stirs in the courtyard.
The breath of cinnamon flushes the warm air.
The rice is good, the wine thick and pungent.
Boughs of apricot brush my east window,
A white moth hinges my shutter.
I am yoked with quiet;
A yellow bird tempers my loneliness.

No more do the streets of Foochow challenge my pleasure.
My desire is simple, the fire of my youth is quenched,
The satisfaction of my years leaps higher than the stars;
Only with wisdom am I concerned,
Wisdom and the pulse of your being, O Flower-One!

Long have I stood on the cold granite slabs
Watching the river,
Above the jostle and clang of the city have I reflected.
When I am lonely
The Bridge of Ten Thousand Ages succors my anguish.
Always the South-Wind fans me with mist from your lotus pool,
The scent of white pear in your pavilion
Smothers my nostrils.
You are the Plum-Blossom of my life!
I am rich with the petals of content, my bins are heaped.

We have been chilled with the Dragon's poisonous vapor;
The footprints of Grief have seared the stones of our court
Yet, the warp of your faith has not weakened.
The silk of its loom has not broken.
The night comes.
The wan moon sulks on a cloud
Like a mound of white feathers perched on a hay cock.
My spirit languishes for the hearth of my Fathers.

Soon is the Feast of Lanterns.
With the first shaft of day I shall arise
To make offerings to the Wind-God.
Then, shall I hasten to you, even as spent pigeons
Fly to sweet waters of remembrance.
My eyes require no taper.
I drink from the gourd of your compassion
And am refreshed.





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