When You Wake

Tonight, when you are finally
sleeping, I will let myself out

by the eastern gate,
wade river, and the moon,

make my way to Luoyang,
where birds have come into bloom.

There, I will set down my baskets
and gather them all up for you,

so you find, when you wake,
by your bedside in sprays,

all the peonies of Chang’an.


  1. It is said that the Empress Wu Zetian once commanded the flowers in her garden to bud at night so as to fully bloom during her morning walk. All the garden followed, save the peonies, so the empress banished them from the Tang capital to far Luoyang. But the Chang'an peonies flourished there, growing ever larger and more beautiful to this day.

    Short link - http://bit.ly/s4peonies

  2. That is a beautiful story, Semaphore! Your take on the peonies of Chang'an is enchanting.

  3. Great story in such few words, wonderfully crafted!

  4. This is so beautiful, Semaphore. I am currently reading Lisa See's "Peony in Love" and it fit right in. What I like most about the book is all the allusions to the history of Chinese poetry...to me, so spiritual. Victoria

  5. The simplicity of the poem allows for the reader to feel the impact of the emotion. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Lovely, Sam. And great background story.

  7. this is lovely...and if you really do it...i imagine her loving you more than you can imagine...nice sam...

  8. ..a very inspired write sir.. depicting a classical romance of old Japanese days.. yes, it has this Japanese feel that i truly liked when i read this piece.(:

    Thanks for the poem!


  9. These poems are at once delicate and strong as steel-- you strike just the right balance between image and white space-- this one makes me think of that image of Pound's about the Metro...xxxj

  10. Anonymous10:48:00 AM

    Beautifully textured. I've been reading Li Po and Tu Fu recently so this resonated quite a bit.. // Peter.

  11. Lovely...
    I do love your poetry. Nice to see you here. Did I miss you in the past or is this your first time.

  12. Beautiful poem and beautiful story. This has the flavour of old Chinese poems I've read in translation, so much so that at first I thought it must be your translation of such a piece!

  13. Anonymous5:45:00 PM

    Lovely write

  14. Quite nice. Especially with the backstory...

  15. Anonymous1:23:00 AM

    Love this! Masterful images as always

  16. I love this Eastern influence on your writing. It's so subtle and beautiful. Delicate as those wonderful scrolls. This with peonies is one of my favorites of yours. Your work grows ever more deft.

  17. Delicate, still and very satisfying.

  18. So beautifully written, I emotionally followed you in the narrative and found myself having left peonies too. Your poem opens the parallel poetic universe wherein I was touched. Beautiful, Sam.

  19. discovered your blog today.
    am liking it :)

  20. Thank you so much for the kind words...

  21. beautiful, beautiful with an ache, "wade river, and the moon"

  22. I come to your page and keep reading this masterpiece over and over!
    Fascinatingly soft!


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