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  • Gordon Osing and Julia Min

武陵春·春晚 The storm’s over, the petals perfuming dust












The storm’s over, the petals perfuming dust

- to the Tune of Wulingchun

written by Li Qingzhao ( 12th century)

trans by Gorden Osing & Julia Min

The storm's over, the petals perfuming dust.

This late, this weary, why bother fixing hair.

In an ancient land, the stricken don't care,

or rather, can't speak for her running tears.

One might still float away into oblivion.

On Twin Rivers, they say, there lingers Spring.

But no cricket-boat on Twin Rivers, I think,

could hold my heavy grief from the stream.


At fifty-one years of age and widowed, Li Qingzhao was living in Jinhua County, Zhejiang Province, near Twin Rivers (双溪), the locale of this ci . Her country north had been conquered by tribes from the north. Polite and aristocratic language, in the poem, are in contrast with her powerful disdain for her circumstances. All around her were the faces and sentiments of the defeated. It was early Autumn, often called "the end of Spring" in Chinese poetry, in the year 1134. The consolations of her friends excite the politest bitterness from the lady, whose insult is wholly personal aristocratic and patriotic.


1. Twin Rivers : in a meditation scene famous already in the Tang era, where two rivers flowed together from the east and south. Artists still retire there to paint, write and meditate.

2. cricket boat: "insect boat", " or "grasshopper boat", a shell, smaller than a rowboat.

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