Queer by Choice: A Response to Li Qingzhao’s “Joy of Eternal Union”

Magnolia blossoms barely fully out
Already begin to corrode away
x    After one night’s wind

Just before dawn they litter the cold ground
While Venus dances around her unseen
 x    Partner in the east

Just as we danced in each other’s shadow
Fucked in each other’s strong arms and then kissed
x     Under the bright lights

Once a year for a day we would parade
All whistles rippling torsos sweaty
x    In the hot sunshine

And this was the source of all our power
Full might of our choosing to come out
x    To be here and queer

And we wrote it in muscle and in blood
Then a virus came along to translate
x    Our love into dust

Now the sodomites are suburbanized
Claiming we are born this way renouncing
x    Our power of choice

And once a year we parade for a day
With our corporate sponsors and that one
x    Minute of silence

x    And in it I know
I do not begrudge the stars your body
Nor fear the silence your voice has become


Tune: “Joy of Eternal Union” ①
Lantern Festival
by Li Qingzhao

The setting sun—a pool of molten gold;
Evening clouds—discs of emerald jade.
Where is he—the one in my thoughts?
Spring willows robed in hazy mist;
“Falling Plum Blossoms” wafted by a plaintive flute:
Lovely springtime—how far is it advanced?
Warm sunshiny weather at the Lantern Festival——
Who knows but it may be
A prelude to wind and rain?
My old wine and poetry companions send
Perfumed coaches, fine horses to take me f o r a ride,
But I decline all their invitations .

Sweet are memories of our old capital in its heyday!
Young ladies with time to spare
Made the Lantern Festival a special occasion for joy.
In kingfisher-feather caps and
Gold-thread jewelled hair ornaments,
They vied with one another for loveliness.
Now worn with care,
My hair wind-blown and temples frosty,
I dread going out on festive evenings.
I’d much prefer to stay behind the screen
And listen to youthful talk and laughter
As people pass by.

①  The advent of the Lantern Festival revived memories of the poet’s happy days in the Northern Song capital, the loss of which to the Tartars was always in her thoughts.

Translated by Jiaosheng Wang.



Lǐ QīngzhàoYǒng yù lè
Luòrì róng jīn, mù yún hé bì, rén zài hé chù. Rǎn liǔ yān nóng, chuī méi dí yuàn, chūnyì zhī jǐxǔ. Yuánxiāo jiājié, rónghé tiānqì, cìdì qǐ wú fēngyǔ . Lái xiāng zhào, xiāng chē bǎomǎ, xiè tā jiǔ péng shī lǚ.
Zhōngzhōu shèng rì, guīmén duō xiá, jìdé piānzhòng sānwǔ. Pù cuì guān er, niǎn jīn xuěliǔ, cù dài zhēng jì chǔ. Rújīn qiáocuì, fēng huán shuāng bìn, pà jiàn yèjiān chūqù. Bùrú xiàng, lián er dǐxia, tīng rén xiàoyǔ

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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