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The Mei-Pei Lake

© 2008
BASID #767

Beth Ames Swartz
The Mei-Pei Lake
acrylic and mixed media on canvas
60" x 48" (1.52m x 1.22m)



(Du Fu, also Romanized as Tu Fu, 712 - 770 A.C.E, Chinese)

The Mei-Pei Lake
Ts´ên Shên and His brother are fond of the wonders of nature,
And they have invited me for a sail on Mei-Pei Lake.
Suddenly the darkening universe takes on a strange color,
And we find before us a vast stretch of breakers breaking like glass.

We cast the boat loose to float among the crystal madness—
An unusual daring that that rouses a hundred fears.
How can we be sure of the absence of whales and alligators,
Should the wicked wind and waves really work their worst?

Presently it clears. Our boatmen busy themselves merrily;
Our hosts help to unfurl the brightly embroidered sail.
Songs of the oars burst while geese and gulls fly in disorder,
And pipes and strings harmonize to welcome the blue of the sky.
Poles and cords will not fathom the depth of the water
Which washes the aquatic leaves and blossoms fresh and immaculate
As we approach the center of the ocean-like expanse,
We see in the downward darkness the Southern Mountain
Inverted and immersed in the farther half of the lake,
Quivering here and there with rhythmic shadows of quiet
Will our boat collide with the Temple of the cloud Edge Peak?
Watch how the moon swims out of the Lan-t’ien Pass!

Now is the time the Black Dragon should offer his fabulous
Let the guardian spirit of the waters beat the drums to the
   movement of the little dragons,
Let the Princess of the Hsiang and the maidens of the Han
   come out to dance
Amidst the flickering lights of the green flags and silvery

Still there is the lurking fear that a thunderstorm might strike
   at any moment.
What after all is the intention of unpredictable Providence?
How long can the illusions of youth last in the reality of age!
How many rapid turns of joy and sadness in an interval so