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Mourning Thoughts   In Memory of Professor Li Fang-Kuei

Pang-Hsin Ting
Translated by Samuel Hung-nin Cheung

When Professor Fang-Kuei Li passed away in 1987, I was visiting the Chinese University of Hong Kong. The news was a blow and left me devastated for a long time. The following year, at the request of Mrs. Li, I went to the San Francisco Bay Area and worked on Professor Li’s library collection, which was to be donated to the Institute of History and Philology of the Academia Sinica. Upon returning to Taiwan, I wrote this poem. Although the words are many, they do not adequately express how much I miss him.

Three sections of the poem, each beginning with “Ah, I remember” recount the happy days I experienced while working with Professor Li in Seattle, Hawaii, and Taiwan. Seattle was translated as She-lu in old Cantonese, a rendition that Professor Li often used in his writings. A scholar dedicated to research, Professor Li also enjoyed playing the flute and singing along with Mrs. Li lyrics from the Kunqu opera. At times, he took up the brush and painted birds and flowers, his favorite subjects.

When A Study of the Old Tibetan Inscriptions was published, I sent him a copy by express mail. The book pleased him, and, despite his failing health, he read it with enthusiasm. A few days later, he died. The last two couplets in the poem are constructed with the embedding of both Mr. And Mrs. Li’s Chinese names, an attempt to characterize both the enduring love they had for each other and our fond remembrances of the couple for decades to come.

Days are saddened by thoughts I cannot dismiss;
Thoughts of you, my mentor; twenty years of blessing and bliss.
Mountains darkened, the messenger found me at the Waters of Fragrance;
Stranded afar, I offered you incense in grief and reverence.
Ah, I remember the days I roamed with you on the road to the west;
Grasses stretched from the pavilion, verdant to the farthest.
Rhymes of the past, you rendered each anew;
My senses freshened like buds with dew.
The lofty pine stood, needles sharp in array;
Cuckoos cried, forsythias burst a splendid display.
Going westward ever, I dare not;
The sight of the verdant meadow, my mind distraught.
Ah, I remember the days I sought you in the isle of the east;
Mountains alive with winds and drizzle – what a springtime feast.
Words of the red men, who else would reckon?
Writings on Tai now made a divine canon.
The music of kun, meandering through many a cloud on high;
Flirting with a flute, you blew a kiss to the waning eve nigh.
Those memories of the isles, rivers and seas;
A dream quickly fading behind the misty breeze.
Ah, I remember the days you returned ‘neath the national gate;
Of those old chums, I wonder how many still robust of late?
The golden pin you passed on with passion and grace;
A young lad’s heart you touched, a smile on your face.
Purple crabs, crimson leaves, a season that never grew old;
Hamlets to cross, laughter to share, your hands to hold.
Color splashing, your strokes vivid as new;
In lonely tears, I gazed on a shimmering hue.
Ah, somber and sad, I returned to the golden shore;
The terrace by the lake an old nest no more.
Wing to wing you used to soar, now one bird alone;
Your last joy, I learnt, was when the new volume shown.
Volumes, many and rare, now other men’s delight;
Dusty covers I stroked late in the night.
Adieu, I bowed again; incense burning, ashes at rest;
A mourning song from whence I heard lingering notes, a heart depressed.
Between life and death, the fire continues to illumine;
Cassia gone, hundreds more to bloom.
To and fro, gently on the land of purity;
The cherry sways by the plum, a glowing eternity.














哀思   悼方桂師


一九八七年 方桂先生辭世,余在香港中文大學訪問,聞訊淒然,久久不能自已。次年奉師母之命至金山整理藏書,悉數捐贈中央研究院歷史語言研究所。 歸後即作此詩,聊寄哀思於萬一。

詩中“憶昔”三章,分記在西雅圖、檀香山及台灣與 先生過從之樂,“舍路”即西雅圖之粵語舊譯, 先生書信中屢屢用之。著書立說之餘, 先生時擫長笛與師母合唱崑曲,或搦畫管寫花卉蟲魚之態,故詩中皆道及之。

《古代西藏碑文研究》印成之際,余以特快專遞寄達, 先生喜動顏色,猶能於病榻之上展讀,數日後即與世長辭。末兩聯嵌先生及師母之名諱,期能描述先生伉儷之情及不朽之名。

哀思竟日不能忘   廿載鵝湖恩義長
香江聞訊千山黑   遙祭吾師一炷香
憶昔從遊舍路西   庭前芳草總萋萋
誰將古韻從頭說   花雨繽紛解宿迷
高松磊落松針細   迎春花放子規啼
從今不敢西城過   怕見庭前草萋萋
憶昔訪師檀島東   春山春雨醉春風
紅人舊語誰能識   泰典書成百世功
崑腔婉轉浮雲駐   笛韻纒綿落照紅
長懷海國千江水   都入南柯煙雨中
憶昔吾師返國門   當年舊友幾人存
金鍼不吝殷勤度   最感後生顏色溫
紫蟹紅葉秋不老   扶將笑語過山村
丹青手澤今猶在   獨對空濛淚眼昏
再到金山心事哀   可憐湖畔舊樓臺
雙飛賸有孤鴻影   忍聽病中喜書來
珍藏千卷贈新主   子夜摩挲袖拂埃
辭歸再拜香成灰   誰唱悲歌韻低徊
方死方生火不盡   桂花謝了百花開
徐往徐來清淨土   櫻紅世世李邊栽