丑奴儿·晚来一阵风兼雨 At last we see some wind and rain by sunset
At last by twilight we see some wind and rain
- to the tune of Choulu’er
written by Li Qingzhao （12th century）
translated by Julia Min
At last by twilight we see some wind and rain，
washing away the dazzling heat of the day.
After playing the pan-flute, she’d head to bed,
but the blue-lotus mirror sees an adorned face.
In the veil-like chiffon her evening dress is made,
Invisibly visible her body of sweet scent on jade,
“Tonight my bamboo mat is cool in the bed net.”
her rosy lips uttered, a glowing smile at her mate.
This could be a glimpse of their happiest married life in Qingzhou in their twenties, or early thirties. Before 1949, Chinese men used to have as many wives as he could afford, a family law probably resulted from the unbalanced ratio of men and women due to too many deaths at wars. We’re not sure how many wives Zhao Mingcheng had by then, but we know he had more than one, thus I used ‘my bamboo bed’.
The theme is subtly obvious like her chiffon dress with an intriguing humour for a romantic evening. Oxymoron is used here for such an effect in the translation. The subject of love and sex is revealed but no such word ever used, a subtleness favoured in Ci poetry throughout the Song period.
1. blue-lotus mirror: a bronze mirror with a popular design using blue lotus ( also called purple lotus) for good fengshui vibes, a good spell for wealth and prosperity.
2. my bamboo mat: a bed cover made of bamboo, still favoured by the Chinese today for summer days.