Response to another of Li Qingzhao’s “Butterflies Lingering Over Flowers”

Endless night of worrying,
A dream of you,
On the shore standing,
At the ocean waves looking,
And you’re not even breathing.

I hold out my hand offering
This year’s first blooms,
Fragrant bright beings,
You just say: “Even the spring
Cannot revive everything.”


Tune: ” Butterflies Lingering Over Flowers” by Li Qingzhao
Giving a Party to My Relatives on the Third Day of the Third Lunar month: A Dream
by Li Qingzhao

Low spirits, a long dreary night.
Idly I dreamed I was on my way back
To our beloved old capital—
The familiar road a blaze of
Beautiful flowers in the moonlight
As home I went with news of
This year’s glorious spring.

A few home-cooked dishes at the party,
But just to our taste:
The plums sour, the wine delicious.
In my cups how I ‘ d have loved to deck my h a i r
With a spray of bloom,
But for fear the flowers would chaff me.
But soon, oh how soon!
I woke to the stark reality :
We were both of us aging,
The Spring and I.

The dedication refers to the ancient Chinese custom of holding parties of friends or families at the river’s edge on the third day of the third lunar month to ward off evils . It dates as far back as the Jin Dynasty, when Wang Xizhi, China’s greatest calligraphist , wrote an essay in his imperishable calligraphic style celebrating one such event.

The reference placing flowers in her hair is an allusion to Ouyang Xiu’s essay “The Customs of Loyang,” which records that in spring the women of Loyang used to take delight in decorating their hair with flowers.

Translated by Jiaosheng Wang.



Qīngzhào Dié liàn huā
Shàngsì zhào qīnzú
Yǒng yè yān yān huan yì shǎo , kōng mèng cháng’ān , rèn qǔ cháng’ān dào . Wèi bào jīnnián chūnsè hǎo, huā guāng yuèyǐng yi xiāng zhào.
Suíyì bēi pán suī cǎocǎo, jiǔ měi méi suān, qià chēng rén huáibào . Zuì mò chāhuā huā mò xiào, kělián chūn shì rén jiāng lǎo.

Here is all the ci/词 and responses to it on this blog.

To read Songs about Sex, Death & Cicadas by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

To read  as close as the clouds by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the linke and select “Save link as…”

To read the chapbook Happy Birthday Hanafuda by Andrew Grimes Griffin just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”


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