Translation: “Auspicious Partridge: A Pair of Ginkgo”

Auspicious Partridge: A Pair of Ginkgo
Attributed to Li Qingzhao
Translated by Andrew Grimes Griffin

Your elegant poise evident
Even though not yet fully formed,
The orange before the wine vessel
Fit only to be called your slave.
Who will show pity when you’re lost
To the southern rivers and lakes?
Jade bones, icy flesh, unwilling
To wither, unsullied remain.

Who was it dared to pluck you from
The stem you both relied upon?
The Emperor after much wine
Must lean on his true concubine.
A deep meaning that both had shared,
When you burst into full ripeness,
In separate homes will be sung
By severed hearts that once were one.


guoande seal script jpegDepth charge: Again, a poem of questionable provenance, but attributed to Li Qingzhao in the book that I am using as the basis for this project, and again there is no existing English translation that I could locate, so I am forced to do my own.

As a sidenote, while researching ginkgo’s for this poem, I found the following. I have cleaned up the punctuation and spelling: “So, if you notice a tree with fan shaped leaves, and plum shaped fruits which smell like dog feces, it’s probably a ginkgo. Only the female trees bear fruit, and they need to be in proximity to a male ginkgo to make the nuts.”


Ruì zhè gū ·shuāng yínxìng
Fēngyùn yōngróng wèi shén dōu , zūn qián gān jú kě wéi nú . Shuí lián liúluò jiānghú shàng, yù gǔ bīng jī wèi kěn kū .
Shuí jiào bìng dì lián zhī zhāi, zuì hòu míng huáng yǐ tài zhēn . Jūshì bāi kāi zhēn yǒuyì, yào yín fēngwèi liǎng jiā xīn.

Grace/charm/graceful/poised/not yet/very/flourishing, Wine vessel/in front of/sweet/mandarin orange/able/to serve as/slave. Who/pity/desitiute/wander/River/Lake/on, jade/bone/ice/flesh/not yet/willing/dry up.
Who/cause/combine/stem/to join/branch/to pluck, drunk/after/bright/emperor/lean on/greatest/true. Reside/honorific/break/open/real/meaning, must/sing/distinct-style/two/home/new.

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…”


One thought on “Translation: “Auspicious Partridge: A Pair of Ginkgo”

  1. Pingback: On a web—unravelling: A Response to “Auspicious Partridge,” attributed to Li Qingzhao | tankawanka

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