The crows all night

(after Li Po)


And the crows
flew out of the storm
and took their places
among the branches;

and the sun
at the world’s edge
broke through the clouds;

and she paused at her loom,
the cawing of the crows reminding her
that she was alone,
the jaundiced light
reminding her how far behind
was her home by Qin River.

The mist-green thread she wove
had neither beginning nor end.

The crows called all night long
while the rain fell like her tears.



A free-hand version of Li Po’s Crows Calling at Night. Here is the poem itself, and a symbol-by-symbol translation, courtesy of

Wu ye ti

Yellow cloud wall beside crow near roost
Return fly caw caw branch on call
Machine in weave brocade Qin river girl
Green yarn like mist separate window speech
Stop shuttle disappointed recall far person
Alone stay lone room tear like rain

Here are some other versions.

Image: you were born with wings by Flickr user roujo, published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) license.

Yes, I’m aware, the birds in the picture aren’t crows. And the photograph probably wasn’t taken at night, either, or in China.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s