Tears have to be held back, the parting is kept unnoticed;
Words are not to be uttered, the longing is hidden and disguised,
Beyond the two hearts that know, no one will ever know.
—— Bo Ju-yi the Sanguine
You’ve finally lain down,
Down with your sword
By the stone pillow where her hair grows like moss,
After so many years of bell tolls
The salty Medi-terra-nean wind has not eroded the thick walls
Of the chapel where Friar’s self-reproaching eyes
Still grow green in the cuckoo’s mocks.
His lasting fast has not yet mummified him into a pupa,
Or at least such is the rumor during the vespers.
On every eve of Vesuvian eruption
People identify an unidentified flying object lingering
Is that you Romeo on the arch of a meteor?
(Wilt thou leave me so unsatisfied?)
Still dazzling and enchanting are the ladder-like waves
But no more is there moonlight in court-yard.
You’ve overdrawn too many dawns for those balcony dates,
You waded across the cool water of life and death
Straddled the starlit parapet
Bade her good-night for the one-night stand during which you stood
Till the tanks of clouds squeezed out the morning sun’s blood.
A small slip of the hooves, a stumble beside the river of reflected stars
Would seduce my vision for a collaboration and you would never come back.
But how can a man reproach another man for his love for gallantry?
What do men do to feel real and alive, then?
The only thing is
You have not learned, you have never learned
A woman or a goddess
Is but a touch-me-not in a mirror, a forget-me-not upon water
Neither a hand nor a foot
Not any part belonging to a man.
When she persists in love, she betrays you
But you are still Romeo, Romeo
(How can a man begrudge another man’s love for loving?
But to whom could I tell about
Our ancient ways of merry-making?)
What season is it there?
Are you fishing in a frozen lake or sword-fighting with a drunken moon?
Mercutio’s gone, long into hermitage, vocal cord cut.
For many years, I have been tracing him but in vain
He must have become a real shabby grave man
And the tavern where we’d roistered and fought is now a cultural site
Well-preserved but desolate
The ancient streets are stained with modern hostels
The beach crowded with swarthy women, bony and flowery
And bizarre creatures sucking marijuana, riding heavy metals
They’ve crushed the scenery of a lone roc and the setting sun
Last night, outside the city gate
A begging monk committed hara-kiri with his split bamboo flute
The cattail hassock sponged in every drop of his blood
The site of the rite was clean and dry and this morning the gate opened wide
Like a laughing mouth, laughing at you and me and at Mercutio
After you’ve gone
This is no country for the young,
The old, rocking in the armchairs, enjoy respectful care
Their white hair blooming
Like the wild flowers by the younger tombs
Note: Chinese original written in early 1990s
是你吗 罗密欧 驾着流星的弧线
地中之海 波光依然滟潋 柔媚一如当年
她不是手 不是脚 不是手臂 也不是脸
传闻他在深林的草舍 自残了声带 夜夜醉里扶剑