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殢人娇·后亭梅花 The blooming plum trees at Houting


殢人娇·后亭梅花


原作:【宋】李清照

英译:闵晓红


玉瘦香浓,

檀深雪散。

今年恨,

探梅又晚。

江楼楚馆,

云闲水远。

清昼永,

凭栏翠帘低卷。


坐上客来,

尊前酒满。

歌声共,

水流云断。

南枝可插,

更须频剪。

莫直待,

西楼数声羌管。


The blooming plum trees at Houting

- to the tune of Tirenjiao

translated by Julia Min


Again this year I missed the curdled view

of snow embracing the budding blooms.

From jade-like petals tiered on slender branches,

Spring has melted the plum trees for her perfume.

By the Chu Hotel the river slowly flows down,

meeting beyond a sky with roaming clouds.

Behind the green curtains over the tower rails,

a quietude finds the long day a useless charade.


At last our invited guests arrived in the room,

and all the cups are filled to brim full, for now

we’ll sing “Flowing Waters Chasing Clouds”.

So make the most of it, my friends, if you could

when the south branches are loaded with blooms.

Pluck some to grace your room, or your hairdo.

You don’t want to regret amid the flute music

from west room “The Falling of Plum Blooms”.


Appreciation:

This ci poem is considered as Li Qingzhao’s work as the language and style reads very much like her creation. Geographically, Houting is most likely located on the way from the capital ( today’s Kaifeng, Henan Province) to the young couple’s home at Qingzhou (Shandong Province) as shown on the map. It looks like a beautiful scenic spot marked with a Song dynasty town site there on today’s map. I wouldn’t be surprised if Houting was a popular tourist hotspot during the Song period. If so, this ci could be composed before the fall of the Northern Song, somewhere around 1107 to 1126 when her husband was mayor in a few places not far away from Houting.


The poem subjects moves from the scene in the first stanza to the gathering ( most likely her girlfriends from local) in the second stanza, from external to internal, a yin-yang structure through to the end. The theme again is a sentimental sigh over the passing of blooming years, so enjoy what comes your way. The message of escaping to the South and of invaders from the West / North could be sensed, almost in an imperceptible way, reminding us of her similar theme in “’Tis the last flower of spring”, hinting the falling of the Northern Song. So she ask her friends to cherish the moment when they could, God knows what’s next.

Notes:

1. Houting:





Pinying and Word -For-Word Translation:



 




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