Tuesday, July 11, 2023


The Battle of Yashima in the Genpei War (1185) by Utagawa Kunisada, 1838

Men from such remote provinces, hardly care what leader's orders they follow, as long as he suppresses trouble and succeeds in imposing peace. 

- The Tale of the Heike, Book Eleven, tr. Royall Tyler


Saturday, October 30, 2021

When grief for fictions idle words 
More real than human life appears,
Reflect that life itself's a dream
And do not mock the readers tears.

- the last lines of "The Story of the Stone, Volume V: The Dreamer Wakes" by Cao Xueqin and Gao E, tr. John Minford.

Monday, October 11, 2021


Charms and Holy Water are Used to Exorcize Prospect Garden. Source: Sun Wen, Illustrations for the Complete Dream of the Red Chamber.

"The menfolk of both Rong-guo and Ning-guo House had taken courage from the presence of the priests, and were gathered in the Garden to watch the demon-hunt."

Since at first there was no space,
Things can have no proper place.
From Void all comes;
To void must all return.

- from "The Story of the Stone, Volume IV: The Debt of Tears" by Cao Xueqin and Gao E, tr. John Minford.

Thursday, August 19, 2021


Angel of gaiety, have you tasted grief?

Shame and remorse and sobs and weary spite,
And the vague terrors of the fearful night
That crush the heart up like a crumpled leaf?

Angel of gaiety, have you tasted grief?

Angel of kindness, have you tasted hate?

With hands clenched in the shade and tears of gall,
When Vengeance beats her hellish battle-call,
And makes herself the captain of our fate,

Angel of kindness, have you tasted hate ?

Angel of health, did ever you know pain,

Which like an exile trails his tired footfalls
The cold length of the white infirmary walls,
With lips compressed, seeking the sun in vain?

Angel of health, did ever you know pain?

Angel of beauty, do you wrinkles know?

Know you the fear of age, the torment vile
Of reading secret horror in the smile
Of eyes your eyes have loved since long ago?

Angel of beauty, do you wrinkles know?

Angel of happiness, and joy, and light,

Old David would have asked for youth afresh
From the pure touch of your enchanted flesh;
I but implore your prayers to aid my plight,

Angel of happiness, and joy, and light.

- Charles Baudelaire

translation by Arthur Symons

Monday, August 16, 2021

The gates of hell are open night and day;
Smooth the descent, and easy is the way:
But to return, and view the cheerful skies,
In this the task and mighty labor lies.

- Virgil, Aeneid, Book VI, tr. John Dryden

Sunday, February 14, 2021

I pray that it may for ever be my lot in life to sit opposite my dear one and hear close to me his sweet voice, to go out when he goes out and share every activity with him. And so a lover might well pray that his cherished one should journey to old age without any sorrow through a life free from stumbling or swerving, without having experienced at all any malicious spite of Fortune. But, if in accordance with the law governing the human body, illness should lay its hand on him, I shall ail with him when he is weak, and, when he puts out to sea through stormy waves, I shall sail with him. And, should a violent tyrant bind him in chains, I shall put the same fetters around myself. All who hate him will be my enemies and those well disposed to him shall I hold dear. Should I see bandits or foemen rushing upon him, I would arm myself even beyond my strength, and if he dies, I shall not bear to live. I shall give final instructions to those I love next best after him to pile up a common tomb for both of us, to unite my bones with his and not to keep even our dumb ashes apart from each other.


Affairs of the Heart, Pseudo-Lucian, tr. A.M. Harmon