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  • Julia Min

浣溪沙.莫许杯深琥珀浓 The Cup Is Never Too Full










The Cup Is Never Too Full

- to the tune of Huanxisha

translated by Julia X. Min

The cup is never too full,

the wine never too strong.

Before the amber drink goes in,

my wits are melt and gone.

From chime to chime, weary and heavy,

a cold wind blows to the lonely town.

Whatever incense scented,

whatever dream dreamed,

all faded but emptiness to dwell upon.

The hairpin of gold seems teeny weeny,

as my hairdo gets messy and worn.

The red-hot wicks sees only me at dawn.

Picture retrieved from Google

Other versions for your reference (许渊冲):



This ci poem is a good example of “Boudoir Sentiments” popular in the Song poetry by both gentlemen and gentleladies who would compose there and then during grand dinner party or in the drawing rooms. Ci poems are songs composed for the singing girls to sing for the occasion. The guest would usually choose a musical tune ( there were hundreds of them in the Song) for his ci poem. Once done, the ci poem was handed over to a singing girl familiar with the tune. She would sing there and then to entertain. Other guests, if interested, would write more poems in the same rhyming scheme to honour the first one, or, they could start a new one. To become sociable in the Song Court, or aristocratic occasions, you were expected to have mastered the art of music, poetry and prose, calligraphy, drawing, chess, and ultimately a knowledge of history. These include military generals, politicians, martial art masters, and most emperors. The last leader in China who wrote poetry and calligraphy is Mao Zedong. It’s lost now. Contemporaries don’t seem to stand a chance to be ushered in the saloons of the Song. Something we need to dig into, aye…


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