July 17, 2018 by The Citron Review
Translations by Dan Veach
Drink every day at Gold Dust Spring
And live for at least a thousand years—
An azure phoenix, soaring with striped dragons
Attending Jade Emperor’s court in festive plumes
Eddying gently, too tranquil to wander
Gold and green jade scattered everywhere
Welcome the sunrise, white bud of a silken flower
Alone in the dawn, my only job is drawing water
This spring near the First Emperor’s tomb may have siphoned off some of the fabulous riches reported to lie within. Wang Wei displays a curious intuition here: the area around the tomb has high concentrations of mercury, found in the life-extending elixirs the emperor once used. Its likely source was the huge world map contained in the tomb, said to have liquid oceans made of mercury. This may be history’s first recorded example of environmental “pollution,” both good and bad.
Dan Veach is the founder and editor emeritus of Atlanta Review. For over two decades Atlanta Review has featured poetry from around the world, including wartime Iraq, pro-democracy Iran, and mainland Communist China. Dan’s own translations from Chinese, Arabic, Spanish and Anglo-Saxon have won the Willis Barnstone Translation Prize and the Independent Publisher Book Award. He is the editor and co-translator of Flowers of Flame: Unheard Voices of Iraq (Michigan State University Press, 2008). His poems and Chinese ink paintings are collected in Elephant Water, winner of the Georgia Author of the Year Award. Dan has performed his work worldwide, including Oxford University, People’s University in Beijing, the American University in Cairo, the Atheneum in Madrid, and the Adelaide Festival in Australia.