Eighteen Refrains on Tartar Pipes 7, 8, 9 Cai Yan [Cai Wenji] (ca. 177-?)
Tr. YK Chan 陈耀国译
At dusk whining winds on all sides of frontier start,
To whom shall I bare my mournful heart?
By destitute rampart outskirts beacons and tents stretch mile after mile.
The weak and old mistreated but the young and strong held up in style.
Following water and grassland to settle as homestead in tents,
Herding cattle and sheep like bees and ants in open land.
Sheep and horses driven again when grass and water exhaust,
At seventh refrain I loathe why I reside here and find myself lost.
If an all-seeing eye is watching why it sees not I’m alone drifting?
If the Almighty keeps order why my world’s upside-down shifting?
I haven’t offended the one high above why am I betrothed into a foreign race?
I haven’t neglected the Almighty why am I banished to the wilderness without trace?
To relieve myself from sorrows this eight refrain ends,
Yet when the melody ends to melancholy my heart tends.
Heaven has no end, earth has no brink,
Melancholy in me is endless also I think.
Life passes suddenly as it is ephemeral and toyed,
Yet in my prime I am not overwhelmed with joy.
Regretful, I wish to learn from heaven high,
Yet in vast space no reason’s found to confide.
Looking far above are just mists and grey,
Sentiments at ninth refrain to whom shall I convey?