行香子.草际鸣蛩 The Crickets in Grasses Startle the Parasol Trees
The Crickets in Grasses Startle the Parasol Trees
- to the Tune of Xingxiangzi
written by Li Qingzhao （ 1084-1155？）
translated by Gordon Osing & Julia Min
The crickets in grasses startle the parasol trees
into dropping leaves, and an ancient sorrow
fills Heaven and Earth, even the steps of clouds
are strewn with hurdles on the Moon grounds.
Although the boats go searching to and fro,
they rarely meet among the stars a single soul.
Only once in a year over the vast Starry River,
the magpies gather into a bridge for the lovers,
the herdsman with his weaver, a moment together.
The rest of the year they’re apart from each other,
as today, an endless struggle like the weather.
Nothing stays, rain or wind, sunshine or pleasure
This ci comes from the period after the poet had moved south to avoid the conquering Jin armies, when her married 1ife was not only interrupted by her husband's departure on official duties, it was cast into peril for the unforeseeable future. The folktale of the herdsman and his weaver wife is the usual one summoned to capture the perpetual remorse of lovers whose separations outnumber their times together.
1. ‘the steps of clouds’ and ‘the Moon grounds’: the stairs of heaven are made of clouds, the Moon goddess lives in her jade palace, an ideal domain very hard to reach.
2. ‘the boats’: Legend says that there are boats sailing in Autumn August ( Chinese Calendar) in the Starry River every year. So one man decided to set sail to the River and arrived in ten days. He saw the Herdsman with his cows on the riverbank but his wife is far away in some palace on the other side of the River.
3. ‘the herdsman with the weaver’ : Just as westerners celebrate Valentine’s Day, Chinese have their celebration on July 7th (Chinese Lunar Calendar). Legend has it that the herdsman and his weaver wife join each other on a bridge built by the birds for their brief moment. Their one reunion in a year on the "Birds' Bridge", or “Star Bridge”, as it is also called, is their punishment for disobeying Heaven's rules and loving defiantly (fairies are forbidden to marry humans).
Pinyin and Word -For-Word Translation:
xíng xiāng zǐ
cǎo jì míng qióng ，
jīng luò wú tóng 。
zhèng rén jiān tiān shàng chóu nóng 。
yún jiē yuè dì ，
guān suǒ qiān zhòng 。
zòng fú chá lái ，
fú chá qù ，
bú xiàng féng 。
xīng qiáo què jià ，
jīng nián cái jiàn ，
xiǎng lí qíng bié hèn nán qióng 。
qiān niú zhī nǚ ，
mò shì lí zhōng 。
shèn shà ér qíng ，
shà ér yǔ ，
shà ér fēng 。