London, 8 October 2011
fade and fly across the sky,
the faded red, the scent that has been?
Men laugh at
my folly in burying fallen flowers,
But who will
bury me when dead I lie?
The day that
spring takes wing and beauty fades,
care for the fallen blossom
on dead maid?”
This poem, Daiyu buries flowers, comes from DREAM OF THE RED CHAMBER 红楼梦 by Cao Xueqin (1715? – 1764?). Being one of the greatest classics of world literature, it tells of a boy born with a piece of jade in his mouth, and the talisman comes to decide his fate and that of the over 400 characters around him. A tale with the epic scope of Tolstoy, the poetic sense of Shakespeare, the magic feel of Borges. I recommend the Penguin translation.