To the Tune of Zui Hua Yin

李清照 Li Qingzhao
translated by
Shangyang Fang

These are long days. Days of waiting

stretched longer by the clouds

thickening over the weak fog

and the smoke of burnt camphors

rising from the golden incense box.

Once again, it is the Chongyang Festival.

Jade pillow and gauze tent,

a coldness permeates the midnight.

Holding a cup of rice wine

at the East Fence, my sleeves filled

with the odor of old blossoms.

Don’t tell me that the soul

won’t be abraded by this dense scent

of lovesickness. The west wind

rolling up the curtain, I am thinner

than a yellow chrysanthemum.

李清照 Li Qingzhao (1084–c. 1155) was a Chinese poet and essayist of the Song Dynasty. She was born in Shandong to a family of scholar-officials but was forced to relocate multiple times during the tumultuous Jin-Song wars, eventually settling in Hangzhou. She is among the best-regarded poets of medieval China.
Originally published:
April 1, 2024


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