The River By Night in Spring

BY CHANG POH-HSÜ

In Spring the flooded river meets the tide
Which from the ocean surges to the land;
The moon across the rolling water shines
From wave to wave to reach the distant strand.
And when the heaving sea and river meet,
The latter turns and floods the fragrant fields;
While in the moon's pale light as shimmering sleet
Alike seem sandy shores and wooded wealds.
For sky and river in one colour blend,
Without a spot of dust to mar the scene;
While in the heavens above the full-orbed moon
In white and lustrous beauty hangs serene.
And men and women, as the fleeting years,
Are born into this world and pass away;
And still the river flows, the moon shines fair,
And will their courses surely run for ay.
But who was he who first stood here and gazed
Upon the river and the heavenly light?
And when did moon and river first behold
The solitary watcher in the night?
The maples sigh upon the river's bank,
A white cloud drifts across the azure dome;
In yonder boat some traveller sails to-night
Beneath the moon which links his thoughts with home.
Above the home it seems to hover long,
And peep through chinks within her chamber blind;
The moon-borne message she cannot escape,
Alas, the husband tarries far behind!
She looks across the gulf but hears no voice,
Until her heart with longing leaps apace,
And fain would she the silvery moonbeams follow
Until they shine upon her loved one's face.
'Last night,' she murmured sadly to herself,
'I dreamt of falling flowers by shady ponds;
My Spring, ah me! half through its course has sped,
But you return not to your wedded bonds.'
For ever onward flows the mighty stream;
The Spring, half gone, is gliding to its rest;
While on the river and the silent pools
The moonbeams fall obliquely from the west.
And now the moon descending to the verge
Has disappeared beneath the sea-borne dew;
While stretch the waters of the 'Siao and Siang',
And rocks and cliffs, in never-ending view.
How many wanderers by to-night's pale moon
Have met with those from whom so long apart:—
As on the shore midst flowerless trees I stand
Thoughts old and new surge through my throbbing heart!