A Long Day in Late Spring
written by Li Qingzho（12th Century)
translated by Julia X. Min
Spring is going away. No reason to stay
in sickbed alone, at this strange place.
For whom shall I bother to do my hair
in this homesickness, no one to share?
The roof beam nests a happy swallow pair,
singing and grooming no time spared.
A perfume lingers on the window screens.
It’s the twining rose blooming in the breeze.
This poem was composed on a late spring day during the fall of Northern Song capital to the Jin army. She joined the court families and officials on their escaping trip all the way down to the South.
The verse structure is shaped after a popular pattern called ‘qijue’(a four-line poem with seven characters to a line) in Chinese poetry. I chose to translated it into eight lines in English which is a more popular poetic form in English literature. Besides, eight lines allows me to transfer more fully on the cultural level. A hint of transferred epithet is sensed in the presentation. ‘late spring’ undertones rich sentiments resonating with the lady character struggling alone in her sickbed missing her homeland taken by the invaders. The simple description of the happy swallows, and blooming roses together form an ironic contrast with her state now that her husband is dead and her prime years all gone.