Harken the tears! A poem by Yuan Chen
The following is a poem from Yuan Chen, a great Chinese poet from 779-831 A.D. It is a poem of mourning, so it is a tearjerker. I enjoy the truth in the mention of their love growing stronger, the pain of loss stronger, because of their poverty, not in spite of it. That felt very real, a very human observation.
O youngest, best-loved daughter of Hsieh,
Who unluckily married this penniless scholar,
You patched my clothes from your own wicker basket,
And I coaxed off your hairpins of gold, to buy wine with;
For dinner we had to pick wild herbs
-And to use dry locust-leaves for our kindling..
Today they are paying me a hundred thousand
-And all that I can bring to you is a temple of sacrifice.
We joked, long ago, about one of us dying,
But suddenly, before my eyes, you are gone.
Almost all your clothes have been given away;
Your needleworok is sealed, I dare not look at it
I continue your bounty to our men and our maids
-Sometimes, in a dream, I bring you gifts . .
This is a sorrow that all mandkind must know –
But not as those know it who have been poor together.
I sit here alone, mourning for us both.
How many years do I lack now of my threescore and ten?
There have been better men than I to whom heaven denied a son,
There was a better poet than I whose dead wife could not hear him.
What have I to hope for in the darkness of our tomb?
You and I had little faith in a meeting after death
-Yet my open eyes can see all night
That lifelong trouble of your brow.