Poems of Mi Fu
Butterflies Love Flowers, written on Haidai Tower to amuse the moon
Through ages, ripples die against this lonely precipice.
Haidai Tower is tall.
Below, we look down at the river's end
Which invades the sky, turning sky to water.
Its chill, spreading from palace gates, defines our age.
The flourishing peace of this spring is all a mirage.
The three peaks wear baking pans on their heads
And suddenly, Heaven's Wheel arrives.
When the lovely moon is full, I have many strange humours.
A single beam of moonlight costs me far too much.
The curse of an educated man: to watch kings put baking pans on their heads and go to war, to watch the world turned upside-down, to wait for Heaven's Wheel to arrive. As it must.
"Haidai" means "region of Mt. Tai and its lakes." In the city below this tower, the Huai River (淮) flowed through the pleasure district (秦淮). Heaven's Wheel is implied by "following wheel" (随轮) or the wheel of moral consequence. Mi Fu's waiting for the other shoe to fall ... and crush everything under Heaven. In times of cultural decline, everyone hopes for a good catharsis that will end it all. Many Romans were no doubt gratified by the sacking of Rome. But then the barbarians leave. And, once again, tomorrow is another yesterday.
PS. The title is left as an exercise for the reader.