Bai Juyi

(772–846 / Taiyuan, Shanxi)

A Lament for my Son, Ts'ui


You were a pearl
In the palm of my hand,
My tiny baby boy.

Why is it that I,
A white-haired man of three-score years,
Am left behind,
And you, a child of three,
Must by Heaven's silent, stern decree,
Precede me
To that strange and far-off land
Of death?

My heart is wounded sorely,
But not with a blade of steel;
My old eyes are dimmed and dull,
But not with the dust of earth.

These arms
That held you closely to my breast
Are empty now,
And I mourn, as did Teng Yu of old,
My only son.

Submitted: Wednesday, March 21, 2012

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