Li Qingzhao trans. Wendy Chen: two poems

Endless Joy – Lantern Festival

The setting sun is molten gold.
The evening clouds a disk of jade.

Where has he gone?

Thick mist dyes the willows.
The flutes play “Plum Blossoms” plaintively.

How much spring longing remains?

Lantern Festival is a lovely day,
agreeable in weather.

But who knows when the wind, the rain
will come again?

They fetch me
with fragrant carriages and fine horses,

but I refuse
my drinking companions,
my poetry friends.

In the old capital, the days flourished.

Those free hours
in our inner rooms.

And how we cherished the fifteenth—

Kingfisher crowns,
snow willows of gold thread.
Our hairpieces rivals in beauty.

Nowadays, I am colorless.
My hair, undone by wind.
My temples, frosted.

I am scared to appear
and go out in the night.

Better to face the hanging screen
and listen to the people beyond
who talk and laugh.

永遇樂
元宵

落日鎔金
暮雲合壁
人在何處
染柳煙濃
吹梅笛怨
春意知幾許
元宵佳節
融和天氣
次第豈無風雨
來相召
香車寶馬
謝他酒朋詩侶

中州盛日
閨門多暇
記得偏重三五
鋪翠冠兒
撚金雪柳
簇帶爭濟楚
如今憔悴
風鬟霜鬢
怕見夜間出去
不如向
簾兒底下
聽人笑語

Complaint Against a Prince (3) – Spring Ends

My dream breaks.
The water-clock is quiet.

I have many regrets,
but the wine only irritates.

The pillow is cold.
The green window faces dawn.

Who has swept away
the remaining red
outside my door?

Was it last night’s wind?

The notes of the jade flute
break off.

Where has he gone?

Spring left again,
and can bear not returning
on the promised date.

These passions. This hatred.

This time, I can only
entreat the clouds,
ask the Lord of the East.

怨王孫
春暮

夢斷漏悄
愁濃酒惱
寶枕生寒
翠屏向曉
門外誰掃殘紅
夜來風

玉簫聲斷人何處
春又去
忍把歸期負
此情此恨
此際擬托行雲
問東君

 

Li Qingzhao is an eleventh/twelfth-century Chinese writer, often considered to be one of the most important women poets in Chinese history.

Wendy Chen (@wendychenart) is the author of Unearthings (Tavern Books, 2018). Her work has appeared in CrazyhorseRattle, A Public Space, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of the Academy of American Poets Most Promising Young Poet Prize, and fellowships from the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center and the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund. She earned her MFA in poetry from Syracuse University. Currently, she is co-founder and editor of Figure 1. For more, visit wendychenart.com.

 

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