Sleeve Safe

Don Coles, Forests of the Medieval World "Self-Portrait at 3.15 a.m."

descriptions of happiness must remain illegible
Very apt to describe grass style calligraphy which apparently is a mistranslation that stuck — see cursive script entry on Wikipedia — concerns far from Coles's middle of the night musings which come to us like a letter in a translation and serve as epigraph to our exploration of images from Li Po ...

Two translations, worlds apart.

We skip over the rendering of "Answer to an Affectionate Invitation From Ts'ui Fifteen" offered by Amy Lowell and Florence Ayscough, in Fir-Flower Tablets (1921).

J.P. Seaton "In Repayment for an Invitation from Mr. Ts'ui" in Bright Moon, White Clouds [2012]
That bird-track grass, the delicate style
of the calligraphy you wrote
[...] I try to smile [...]
Then I sing your words one more time,
words, tracks, traces seeming proof against
the ravages of these days of fire and sword,
safe here in the sleeve of my robe,
completely untouched, these three years.
James Cryer "Commenting on Ts'ui Fifteen's invitation" in Bright Moon, Perching Bird [1987]
you used
that lovely
birdtrack style
I laughed to heaven
you were here
the whole time since
as I've gone on
humming the words
your writing
has not died
I've cherished
your letter
in my sleeve
for three years
Seaton looks back. Cryer is focused on the present and we can report that Amy Lowell and Florecen Ayscough in their version are set on the future: "The characters are not faded. I shall keep them in my sleeve, and they should last three years."

My favourite because it displays bird-like qualities in its short lines is Cryer's and because I just like being left with the image of the cache and the humming.

But each belongs to a different era and together spell for us the need for renewed approaches to those illegible lines glimpsed alone at 3:15 a.m. or anytime or place we might have occasion to drink together.

And so for day 1260