The Red-Flower Pear-Tree

BY EO YANG SIU

Song Dynasty

Posted to a distant mountain region,
The old Lang-Kwan, grown grey in honest work,
Oft wandered through the valleys rough and dreary
In search of treasures which might therein lurk.
One day, growing in a sheltered corner,
He found a red-flowered pear-tree in full bloom,
And before it stood transfixed with wonder,
As when a dazzling brightness shines through gloom.
Wondering how so fair a plant could flourish
Away from genial clime and native earth,
Circled by a thousand mist-clad mountains,
And far from fragrant trees of kindred birth.
High its beauty-laden branches rising
Above the gaudy brambles trailing there,
Standing lonely in its perfect grandeur,
With none, alas! to view the picture rare.
Save the vernal breeze which strips its blossoms
And blows them open, year by year, again;
Or the feathered tribes of mountain ranges
In search of shelter from the mist or rain.
Showing it has braved the storms for ages,
Its roots are curved and knotted with the fight;
Yet the Lang-Kwan is the first of mankind
To look with pleasure on so fair a sight.
Drinking in the wealth of dewy fragrance,
He walked around the tree for many hours,
But held by reverential love and wonder,
He durst not raise a hand to pluck the flowers.
To himself the old man murmured gently,
I wish I could remove the tree from here
To grace the garden of the King's demesne,
And find a royal consort for its peer.
Such a task, alas! would be much harder
Than the long and toilsome journey of Chang-K`an,
When he brought the beautiful pomegranate
From Western regions to the Land of Han.