On a Portrait of Two Beauties
How old are these two, anyway?
Big and little sister, equally lovely.
In 100 years, smooth as two sheets of paper.
In 1,000, they still will glow like springtime.
Will the plum tree ever know the wind and moon?
Will reed and willow accept their dull fates?
Why not portray the other pleasures? Blame
the artist, gifted, but a bit dim about love.
Ho Xuan Huong
from Spring Essence: The Poetry of Ho Xuan Huong
translated by John Balaban