Contributors to the Poetry Pavilion and I chose seven poems to recite as part of an inaugural Poetry Slam event at the Chine New Year Party, 2022. The poem below is by Meng Haoran (689-740) who was a close contemporary and friend of Li Bo and Wang Wei. He lived the life of a recluse and was famed for the images of nature in his poems. This poem, in five-character regulated verse, is one of his best- known works.
Chūn xiāo Mèng Hàorán
Spring Dawn by Meng Haoran
Chūn mián bù jué xiāo
Asleep in spring, unaware of the dawn,
chǔ chǔ wén tí niǎo.
Everywhere we heard birdsong.
Yè lái fēng yǔ sheng.
In the night came the sound of wind and rain.
huā luò zhī duōshǎo?
Do you know how many flowers fell?
“Peach Blossom and Sparrows” (Detail) from 緙絲(Kesi) Tapestry Album of Birds and Flowers, Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) Palace Museum, Beijing, China