The Jade Staircase

A poem by Edward Powys Mathers

The jade staircase is bright with dew.

Slowly, this long night, the queen climbs,
Letting her gauze stockings and her elaborate robe
Drag in the shining water.

Dazed with the light,
She lowers the crystal blind
Before the door of the pavilion.

It leaps down like a waterfall in sunlight.

While the tiny clashing dies down,
Sad and long dreaming,
She watches between the fragments of jade light
The shining of the autumn moon.

From the Chinese of Li Po (705-762).

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