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  • Julia Min

感怀.寒窗败几无书史You came to the world on this day of Qiufen













My Mundane Stay

(The day I arrived at Laizhou is marked with a mundane moment at this empty official residence with no interesting books to read only Official Word Dictionary on the table. So I decided to write a poem rhyming the first word shown on the page I randomly opened. There it is, a “zi”(子), thus this poem.)

written by: Li Qingzhao ( 1084 – 1155?) translated by Julia Min

No books of poetry or history to my taste,

just an official dictionary to appreciate.

Between meetings, feasting, and money game,

he could hardly find himself a decent space.

I’d rather be alone at home closing the gate;

In the sweet scent of incense I meditate.

To echo the rhymes I compose and create;

Quietude and Solitude are new friends I made.


This poem is an extempore effusion, or a spur of the moment, written in 1121 when Yi’an joined her husband in Laizhou. Being newly appointed to the prefectural post, Zhao Mingcheng had to attend many official duties and social meetings, thus he could hardly afford time for her wife, not to mention the interim official residence was humbly furnished in her standards. Yi’an must have been missing their happy days in Qingzhou when they enjoyed each other’s company doing their collection, writing poem, sharing creative moments……

Fame and money had never been her pursuit nor had she ever had much the need. Being Li Qingzhao, she’d frown upon such activities as her time would be saved for more valuable things. The 1st stanza on her husband and the 2nd stanza on herself could lead us to sense a mild complain and a sense of dark humour which reveal her real passion in life.


1. “he”: her husband Zhao Mingcheng;

2. “rhymes on vibes”: the rhymes coming to her mind echoing her creative vibes;


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