All water is forgettable once you’ve seen the huge blue seaNo clouds so wondrous as those at Mt. WushanIdly, i pass by some flowers there is no looking backPartly to study Tao, partly to think the you


Grief, we discover in time, is just a part of love. It’s every the love you desire to give yet cannot.

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After his wife’s death, Yuan Zhen (779-831) composed a series of poems. This is the fourth of five. The ocean is vast and blue but not as deep together Yuan Zhen’s love because that his departed wife. No clouds s wondrous as the love Yuan Zhen felt in the mists on the summit of Mt. Wushan. His grief therefore painful the he have the right to not face the fairest the flowers. And remembering only brings sorrow.

Notes ~ above Translation

Yuan Zhen married Wei Cong when he to be 20 and also she was twenty. At twenty-seven, she died of a miscarriage. Throughout the seven years of your married life, the young pair experienced poverty and also setbacks.

The Title

离思, Lí sī, indigenous the title, literally thinking of ours parting, i m sorry I adjusted to thinking of you.

The Quatrain

沧 海, cānghǎi. The substantial blue sea; 巫 山, Wūshān, Mt Wushan and also the beautiful Wushan alleyways is regularly covered in mists and clouds, Yuan Zhen had visited the area, maybe with his wife; 花 丛, huācóng, something as straightforward as a clump the flowers cultivation in a field; 修 道, xiū dào, to study Taoism, come meditate or pray. As the study of Tao suggests, Yuan Zhen is caught in between the pure feel of his grief and also his desire to check out his wife’s challenge in the beauty of the flowers.

Chinese and also Pinyin

离思 五 首(其四)

曾 经 沧 海 难 为 水除 却 巫 山 不 是 云取次 花 丛 懒 回 顾半 缘 修 道 半 缘 君

Lí sī wǔ shǒu (qí sì)

Céng jīng cānghǎi nán wéi shuǐ,Chú què wūshān bú shì yún.Qǔ cì huācóng lǎn huí gù,Bàn yuán xiū dào bàn yuán jūn.

Bitter Love – LiBai
April 11, 2020April 11, 2020 / traditionshome / leaving a comment

A beautiful woman, unfurls the pearly curtainQuietly sitting, exactly how troubled she browI view the tears now, look on her cheeksStill ns don’t understand who she hates.

Love and Hate

Love, it is said, is the the strongest emotion. But hate must be a near second.

Li Bai watch a beautiful woman with tear stained cheeks, however not the bitter dislike she feels. A beautiful woman unfurls a pearly curtain however not she feelings. The is a good prompt for a story.

Who walk she gall hate? will she obtain revenge?

Notes on Translation

Yuàn Qíng, the location is a little bit tricky in English. Grudge, if friend are trying to find one word, bitter love is much more popular choice, literally, one comes up through blame the passion, i m sorry doesn’t rather fit.

Měirén, a beautiful woman. Line 2, é méi moth eyebrow, a euphemism for a beauty, i m sorry originates in the shape of the eybrows which resemble those the a moth. Critical line, Bùzhī, unknown, xīn hèn shuí, who she hates, or, what she feels in she heart.

Pinyin and Chinese Characters

Yuàn Qíng

měirén juàn zhū liánshēn zuò pín é méidàn jiàn lèi hén shībúzhī xīn hèn shuí怨情美人捲珠簾深坐蹙蛾眉但見淚痕濕不知心恨誰

" data-image-caption="" data-medium-file="" data-large-file="" src="" alt="moon, boat, water, Li Bai" class="wp-image-3623" srcset=" 1024w, 150w, 300w, 768w, 1280w" sizes="(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px" />The loss air is clear, The loss moon is bright, leaves that have actually fallen gather and scatter, Jackdaws roosts and also start anew. Yearning for each other, when shall we accomplish again? that is hard to love this night

Qiū fēng qīng, Qiū yuè míng, Luò yè jù huán sàn, Hán yā qī fù jīng. Xiāng sī xiāng jiàn zhī hé rì? Cĭ shí cĭ yè nán wéi qíng!

秋 风 清 秋 月 明 落 叶 聚 还 散 寒 鸦 栖 复 惊 相 思 相 见 知 何 日 此 时 此 夜 难 为 情

The Sublime

I intend that that is the objective of all good poetry to express the sublime. Through sublime is intended the grandeur that the moment, the ineffable expression of one emotion that defies expression. For Li Bai, the moment was a clear, bright fall evening, perfect in every way, except for the pains felt when two lover were parted.

And the ridiculous; or, alas, it is hard to analyze Chinese

Li Bai’s touching homage to two lovesick lovers, each one under a bright fall moon, each emotion the clear loss air, yet separated, like fallen pipeline briefly coming together and scattering again, like jackdaws, thefts moments together then parting.

Translating Chinese characters into English is a difficult problem. Grammar dram a part. Take for example, the an initial two lines. Ns will use pinyin to illustrate the point.

Qiū fēng qīng,Qiū yuè míng,

Li Bai uses but three characters while English calls for the use of ten, including both articles and also a verb come convey a finish sentence. I suppose, the translator can say, “Clear autumn air” and also “Bright fall moon” room not acquainted English constructions.

I require not cite the noticeable loss the rhyme and also rhythm that normally occurs in translations the retain the initial meaning.

Like English combine one Chinese character with an additional often creates a unique meaning. In English, fire and house, way something quite different from firehouse. Favor wise, in Chinese. Take it the first tow personalities in fifth line the Li Bai’s poem, 相 思, Xiāng sī. Literally, one it s okay cold crow, yet the combined an interpretation is jackdaw, a bird the is known for its thieving habits in structure a nest. Had actually the translator liked crow or raven, the poem would shed the feeling of two lovers stealing moments together.

Sometimes, the translator must abandon the literal meaning Chinese to gain the sense of the poem. The last line of Li Bai’s poem starts out through 此 时 , Cĭ shí , literally, at this time. That is complied with by 此 夜 , cĭ yè, this night, and also ending with 难 为 情, nán wéi qíng, which most translators translate as difficult or difficult. Li Bai’s rhyme and rhythm room nice, yet in English it sound better, and also is closer come the poet’s intent to say, “It is hard to love this night.”

Li Bai, The 4 Seasons,Ballads
September 22, 2019September 22, 2019 / traditionshome / leave a comment
Li Bai has created a collection of 4 love ballads set to the 4 seasons. The topic is women, the design template is love, devotion, and also longing. Court females Preparing recently Woven Silk, Zhang Xuan (12th c. Copy)

The 4 Seasons

In Spring, the beloved Lo Fo of the west land the Chin plucks mulberry leaves by the blue waterside, her white arms gleam against the green boughs… In Summer, On winter Lake spread out for miles and also miles, blossoming lotus lily flowers teem… In Autumn, a crescent moon hangs end Chang’an, and ten thousands wives are pounding clothes…In Winter, she’s said the courier departs following day, therefore she sews a warrior’s gown all night.


The ballad of Spring is an abbreviated version of an previously Yuefu poem (樂府, folk song) “Mulberries follow me the field” (陌上桑). Li Bai pays homage to the chaste and loyal Lo Fo (Lo Fuo) the the land of Chin (Qin) . “The floor of Chin” in mid-western China is the ancient state and short-lived very first imperial dynasty (221 come 206 B.C) native which Europeans created the name China.


Summer’s ballad, tells the tale of Xi Shi (西施), precise “(Lady) Shi the the West”, 506 BC – ?).

One that the renowned four Beauties of old China, Xi Shi ended up being a pawn in a plan by King Goujian of Yue to look for revenge over King Fuchai of Wu. Fuchai had actually previously defeated Goujian and made the a prisoner prior to releasing him. Now free, King Fuchai readily available Xi Shi together a gift come King Goujian. She beauty bewitched the king and also he neglected his duties. Eventually, King Goujian had his revenge and also defeated Fuchai. After the autumn of Wu, King Goujian’s minister pan Li retirement and, follow to legend, stayed in the misty waters that Lake Taihu.


Autumn ballad, takes us west come the door of Yumen, Yumenguan (玉門 關).

This dry and also dusty pass at the much western frontier served as a strategic fort along the old Silk Road. The derives its name from the jade the passed through its walls. It come under regulate of the Han dynasty (China’s second imperial dynasty, 206 BC – 220 AD, adhering to the Qin Dynasty).


Winter’s ballad is ultimately here.

Perhaps, Li Bai has actually taken united state to the present.

The An Lushan Rebellion (755-763) has broken out. North tribes rebelled versus the authority of the flavor Dynasty and also invaded China. The rebels are advancing on the Tang funding of Chang’an.

A doting mam is said the courier departs next day because that the north, therefore she sews a warrior’s gown every night.

Ladies playing double sixes, Zhou Fang
Yang Guifei, painting by Hosoda Eishi, brothers Museum

Oh, the lover Lo Fo indigenous the floor of ChinPicking green mulberry leaves by the riverside she red lips bright and also fresh Sir, she says, mine silkworms should eat, so I must goPrince, ns pray, tarry not through your coach and five.

子夜四時歌春歌, 李白 秦地羅敷女 采桑綠水邊 紅妝白日鮮 蠶飢妾欲去 五馬莫留連

Zǐyè sì shí gē chūn gē, Lǐ Bái Qín de luó fū nǚCǎi sāng lǜ shuǐ biānHóngzhuāng bái rì xiānCán jī qiè yù qùWǔ mǎ mò liúlián

mulberry leaves

The Story that Lo Foh

Li Bai’s poem is a retelling the the famous ballad of Lo Fo (Lo Foh), a story of a wife’s loyalty, devotion, and honor to her husband as soon as approached by a high official. It is based on a much much longer ballad that goes prefer this:

In the southeast, the sunlight rises where 2 walls meet. And shines on the home of grasp Chin. Master Chin has a beloved daughter, Lo-foh her name. Lo-foh feeds she silk-worms well. She picks mulberry leaves southern of the city. Her basket is brought by a cord of blue silk, And a hook fashioned from a laurel branch. Her hair is pull in nice knots that Wa-doj Sparkling moonstones cave from her ears. Her petticoat is yellow silk, she jacket violet silk. The mr Governor originates from the south, His five horse coach stops and stays. The Lord branch bids his men to ask. And castle ask: “Who arts thou, little maid?” “I to be the fair daughter of understand Chin, “Lo-foh is mine name.” “How old art thou, Lo-foh?” “Less than twenty.” “But more than fifteen, yea, lot more.” The Lord governor entreats Lo-foh, “Wilt you ride with me?” Lo-foh sweetly replies: “My mr Governor, how foolish, indeed! My lord Governor, you have actually a lady of her own, “And Lo-foh, she has actually a man of her own.”

The land of Ch’in (Qin)

In this, Li Bai’s very first ballad of spring, we go back to the China’s very first imperial dynasty. This is the Qin Dynasty, which us know better as Ch’in or Chin. The dynasty was short-lived, lasting only 15 year from 221 to 206 BC. The importance, other than the truth that it to be the first imperial dynasty, is the it is the resource from i beg your pardon Europeans obtained the surname China.

In the old Warring States period (475–221 BC), the soil of Qin lay to the west prior to conquering the other states.

Lo Fo, or Lo-Foh, is a legend figure, a young girl that is either married or engaged to it is in so. She bright red lipstick might indicate the later. She is picking new mulberry pipeline for her silkworms when she is approached by a coach drawn by five horses, a authorize of a high official, perhaps even the branch of Chin. Lo Fo conveniently deflects his attention and also remains chaste.

Making Silk

Mother’s work is Sunday, therefore I believed it ideal to repost a transaltion the Meng Jiao’s Song of the Parting Son. Some changes have occurred. I will certainly let you decision if castle appropriate.

Song of the Departing Son

The thread, in a mother’s loving handSewing a coat for she departing sonStitch through stitch, alasFearing his so late late return

Who said, a mother’s kindnessCan’t it is in repaidOr also discussed

Chinese and also Pinyin

慈母手中线, 游子身上衣。 临行密密缝 意恐迟迟归 谁言寸草心 报得三春晖 Címǔ shǒuzhōng xiàn, yóuzǐ shēnshang yī lín xíng mì mi fèng, yì kǒng chí chí guī. Shéi yán cùn cǎo xīn, bào dé sān chūnhuī.

Notes top top translation

Line one, object is one obvious an allegory for spring’s soft grass.

Lines three and also four contain repetitions of characters. Line three, 密密, stitch by stitch, may additionally refer to the tightly stitched garment, twin seamed, so regarding not come unraveled. Line four 迟迟归 pertains to the mother’s worry and also fear end the late, late, probably too late return.

Lines five and also six the Meg Jiao’s poem consists of the idiom, 寸草 and also 春晖 , cùn cǎo chūn huī, which means that the heart of the tender grass can’t repay the deep feel of the feather sun. It is a an allegory for the parents’ and a mother’s specifically deep feelings for their children.

The last line inserts character for the number three, 三 san, i m sorry does twin duty, an initial magnifying a mother’s love by three; 2nd as a near-rhyme and also homophone, for life, 身 Shēn.

A beauty unfurls a beaded curtain

Deeply seated, eye furrowed

I watch the tracks of her tears

But ns can’t view who she hates

The tracks of mine Tears

Linda Ronstadt recorded the Tracks of my Tears, a track written by Smokey Robinson in 1965. Smokey Robinson and also The Miracles taped it first, but Linda’s version hits home, perhaps due to the fact that she is a woman.

Li Bai’s poem could have to be title Lover’s Lament. Resentment is the normal English translation, the untold story of a beautiful courtesan who appears from behind a pearl studded curtain and also taking a seat, hardly stirs, just reveling the hate in she heart with her deep furrowed eyebrows and also the poorly hidden tracks of her tears beneath she makeup.

Woe it is in Thee

From Linda Ronstadt and also Smokey Robinson to Li Bai and also the tang dynasty, let’s us currently cross the planet to the Wife’s Lament in the tenth century English Exeter Book. The is a woman’s lament for her shed lover. I will offer you only the last line of 53 lines of lament:

Woe it is in thee, castle say, she who waits for a loved one

Wā bið þam þe sceal / the langoþe lēofes ābīdan.

Original Chinese

怨 情

美 人 捲 珠 簾,

深 坐 蹙 蛾 眉

但 見 淚 痕 濕

不 知 心 恨 誰


Yuàn qíng

měirén juǎn zhū lián,

shēn zuò cù éméi

dàn jiàn lèihén shī

bùzhī xīn hèn shuí

Notes ~ above Translation

怨 情, Yuàn qíng , alternating translations include: bitter Love, Romantic Resentment, or Lover’s Lament.

深坐, Shēn zuò, means “deep sitting” together in, sitting because that a lengthy time. Our beauty enters the room, sits, hardly stirring however for the furrow of her eyes.

蛾 眉, Éméi, the Chinese personalities for “eyebrow moth” introduce to the v-shaped eyebrows top top a beautiful woman. Shaped eyebrows are the mark of a beautiful woman. They additionally reveal emotion.

蹙, Cù. Wrinkled, or furrowed. Furrowed eye convey fear, surprise, hate, or sorrow. “Knitting one’s eyebrows” is the English idiom, conveying the impression of someone deep in thought.

恨 誰, Hèn shuí. Heart and hate. What does it feel like to have hate in your heart? it is one emotion us all experience, one that deserve to lead to despair, anger, and revenge.

" data-image-caption="painting in Gu Lang Yu museum, Xiamen, Fujian, China

" data-medium-file="" data-large-file="" src="" alt="painting in Gu Lang Yu museum, Xiamen, Fujian, China" class="wp-image-3017" />early 19th c. Painting of Li Bai in Gu Lang Yu museum, Xiamen, Fujian, China

Song that a Pure-hearted Girl

As Wutong-trees, live life as oneAs Mandarin ducks, girlfriend til deathAs a pure-hearted girl loves only her husbandI oath in life, to it is in faithful foreverFor a billowing tide cannot stirA water-like-spirit in a timeless well

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Original Chinese

烈 女 操

梧 桐 相 待 老 鴛 鴦 會 雙 死 貞 婦 貴 殉 夫 捨 生 亦 如 此 波 瀾 誓 不 起 妾 心 井 中 水


Wú tóng xiāng dài lǎoyuān\yāng huì shuāng sǐzhēnfù guì xùn fūshě shēng yì rúcǐbōlán shì bù qǐqiè xīn jǐngzhōng shuǐ

Meng Jiao

Meng Jiao (751–814) was born in the eastern Chinese province of Huzhou near present day Shanghai. In the same year of his birth, Tang pressures were beat by the Arabs in far west present day Kazakhstan and by the Tai people near present day Yunnan province. Four years later, the one Lushan Rebellion damaged out, laying waste come the Chinese population and economy. Floods followed.

Meng Jiao lived out lot of this times as a Zen buddhist recluse and also poet in the south. Then at the age of forty, his wandering methods ceased and he cleared up in Luoyang, i m sorry was taken into consideration the “Eastern Capital” the the flavor Dynasty, with a population that approached one million, second only come Chang’an, the capital,which, at the time, was the biggest city in the world.

Meng Jiao settled in as an impoverished and unemployed poet. Unwillinbg at very first to take it the imperial examinations, he eventually did in ~ the urging that his mother, and at the period of 50 pass the test, after i m sorry he obtained a boy post.

After Meng’s death, the poet Han Yu composed an epitaph saying:

“He had no sons. His wife, a woman of the Cheng family, educated me. I went out and stood weeping, and then i summoned Chang Chi to mourn through me…

As for his poetry, that pierces one’s eye and impales one’s heart. It cuts to the point like a object parting in ~ the touch of a knife. His barbed words and thorny sentences tear at one’s guts. His writing ability is spirit-like or choose that the a ghost, glimpsed in between and also over and over again. The cared just for writing and cared not what the civilization thought.”

The poet’s meaning

The title, 烈 女 操, one could replace “chaste” or “virtuous” for the indigenous pure-hearted, however why, a pure heart employs far better imagery. A modern day translation could be “an exemplary woman”.

The poem places a value on the fidelity and also loyalty that a mam to she husband, and, have the right to one assume, the reverse? So, possibly Han Yu is also harsh in his evaluate of Meng Jiao’s finish detachment native the world.

Line one, 梧 桐, (Firmiana simplex) the Chinese Parasol tree, a flower tree whose lumber was provided for soundboards in Chinese musical instruments like the guqin and guzheng.

Line two, 鴛 鴦, Mandarin ducks yuan and yang, male and also female, which mate for life.

The an interpretation of the city lies in its last two currently – a billowing wave cannot stir the water like spirit in the deepest well. Han Yu elsewhere has provided us an understanding of the impacts of nature’s interactions through man, “Trees have actually no sound but cry when the wind stirs them, water has actually no sound but sounds forth once the wind roils it, and also thus the heavens move men to speak once their spirits room troubled.” understand Meng is suggesting jut opposing here, the steadfastness the the devotion the a pure-hearted wife.

There is a security Latin expression that “still waters operation deep” definition that a quiet exterior might hide a passionate heart.

See more: Great Plains Indians Crossword Clue, Crossword Solver

Let me leave you v Lao Tzu’s observation that “Water is fluid, soft, and also yielding. But water will wear far rock, i beg your pardon is rigid and also cannot yield.” grasp Meng would say the exact same is true the love, i beg your pardon is soft and yielding, however firm in that is devotion over time and tragedy.