The Excursion

translated from the Chinese by Florence Wheelock Ayscough

A number of young gentlemen of rank, accompanied by singing-girls, go out to enjoy the cool of evening. They encounter a shower of rain.


How delightful, at sunset, to loosen the boat! 
A light wind is slow to raise waves. 
Deep in the bamboo grove, the guests linger;
The lotus-flowers are pure and bright in the cool evening air. 
The young nobles stir the ice-water;
The Beautiful Ones wash the lotus-roots, whose fibres are like silk threads. 
A layer of clouds above our heads is black. 
It will certainly rain, which impels me to write this poem. 


The rain comes, soaking the mats upon which we are sitting. 
A hurrying wind strikes the bow of the boat. 
The rose-red rouge of the ladies from Yüeh is wet;
The Yen beauties are anxious about their kingfisher-eyebrows. 
We throw out a rope and draw in to the sloping bank. We tie the boat to the willow-trees. 
We roll up the curtains and watch the floating wave-flowers. 
Our return is different from our setting out. The wind whistles and blows in great gusts. 
By the time we reach the shore, it seems as though the Fifth Month were Autumn. 

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on May 19, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets.