Response to Li Qingzhao’s “Drunk in the Shade of Flowers”

Long before honey bees flew
Magnolia trees grew
Offering up blooms
x     Moon-white waxy
For wayward beetles

The May holiday weekend
Approaches—countless
Petals opening
x     No less sweet for
Anonymity

No frailer than the flowers
Best not hide ourselves
From wind and rain—our
x     Seasons of love
Being just as brief

Our longings just as ancient

AGG20140514
(Happy Birthday Sue Hughson)

李清照醉花阴
薄雾浓云愁永昼,瑞脑消金兽。佳节又重阳,玉枕纱厨,半夜凉初透。
东篱把酒黄昏后,有暗香盈袖。莫道不消魂,帘卷西风,人比黄花瘦。

李清照醉花陰
薄霧濃雲愁永晝,瑞腦消金獸。佳節又重陽,玉枕紗廚,半夜涼初透。
東籬把酒黃昏後,有暗香盈袖。莫道不消魂,簾捲西風,人比黃花瘦。

Li Qīngzhào zuì huā yīn
Bó wù nóng yún chóu yǒng zhòu, ruì nǎo xiāo jīn shòu. Jiājié yòu chóngyáng , yù zhěn shā chú , bànyè liáng chū tòu.
Dōng lí bǎjiǔ huánghūn hòu, yǒu àn xiāng yíng xiù. Mò dào bù xiāohún, lián juǎn xīfēng, rén bǐ huánghuā shòu.

Li Qingzhao drunk/flower/shade
Thin/mist/dense/cloud/worry/forever/daytime, Auspicious/essence/disappear/gold/beast. Festival/again/double/yang. Jade/pillow/muslin/bed, middle/night/cold/begins/to penetrate.
East/fence/life/wine/evening/after, Have/gloomy/fragrance/fill/sleeve. Do not/say/not/wasting away/spirit, curtain/roll/west/wind, person (I)/compared to/yellow/flower/thin.

Tune: “Drunk in the Shade of Flowers”
Double Ninth Festival ①
by Li Qingzhao

Fine mist, thick clouds:
A day of sadness drags on.
The incense in the gilt animal-burner is running out.
Once more the festive day of Double Ninth returns,
And my mesh-curtained bed and jewelled pillows
Are just drenched in the chill of midnight.

Beside the east hedge I drink after dusk;
A subtle fragrance fills my sleeves.
Don’t say one is not pining away!
When the west wind blows the blinds aside,
I am frailer than the chrysanthemums.

① Legend says that the Ninth Day of the Ninth Month i n the lunar calendar was originally a day when people in ancient times went to the hills to escape natural calamities, each wearing a bag f i l l e d with dogwood. Later it became a f e s t i v a l for groups of friends or members of a family to go picnicking on the hills to enjoy the brisk air and mellow tints of autumn—a custom immortalized in one of the Tang poet Wang Wei’s quatrains, in whlch the famous line “On festive occasions one thinks doubly of absent dear ones” is often quoted to this day.

This poem was written not long a f t e r the poet married Zhao Mingcheng, when the latter had to leave home at short notice to take up a distant official post. Its vivid images are pregnant with implicit feelings which she leaves for the reader to imagine. The concluding three lines , famous for their lyric charm, are frequently quoted. It is said that when her husband received the poem, he was overcome with admiration and took pains to compose fifty poems to the same tune t o r i v a l and surpass hers, but without success.

Translated by Jiaosheng Wang.

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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