“And the road upper apple-boughs
And the olives to windward
Li Sao, Li Sao, for sorrow
But there is something intelligent in the cherry-stone
–Ezra Pound, Canto CXIII.
LI SAO by Qu Yuan
I cultivate plenty of fragrant thoroughwort
And plant a multitude of orchid
With ligusticum and sweet grass on the ridges
And inter cropped wild ginger and dahurican angelica.
I wish they grew tall with luxuriant branches and leaves
That I can reap when they grow up.
I lament not that they may wither
But they go degenerated and mixed with disorderly weeds.
I am dressed in the garment
Made up of water cal trop leaves and lotus.
I won’t care if I am not to be understood,
So long as I remain lofty and honest.
Putting on a high official hat,
I adorn myself with long ornaments.
Even though the fragrant and clean
Are nowadays mingled with the filthy,
My moral characters are never harmed and corrupted
That are so perfect and pure!
Setting out from the Change Mountain at dawn I keep driving
Till I arrive in the middle of the Kunlun Mountains at dusk.
Here I want to have a stop
In front of the carved doors of Immortals’ Palace,
For the sun is soon setting.
I order Xihe, the chauffeur of god of Sun, to pull up his chariot
So it won’t come near to the Yanzi Mountain
Where the sun enters and sets.
Along the long and far-reaching road
Up in Heaven and down to Earth I will seek!