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  • Julia Min

诉衷情 . 夜来沈醉卸妆迟 A bit tipsy, I slept with make-up on

诉衷情 . 夜来沈醉卸妆迟













A bit tipsy, I slept with make-up on

-to the tune of Suzhongqing

translated by Julia Min

Far into the mist extends the private garden.

Barred cloud enfolds tops of pavilions.

For whom in winter frost is she waiting?

Must be the flirting buds on south branches

her cold dreams feel so cosy with sweet kisses.

Stop playing the song “The Fall of Crimsons”,

when she’s blushing with delicate blossoms.

Would this gentle grace win her love’s glimpse,

Or Spring wind cares for her happiness,

Or her pilgrim soul lived to see prunus blooms?


Composed around 1127 shortly after the fall of Northern Song and the first Southern Song emperor was throned. It was a period of turmoil due to the Jin’s invasion. With the loss of their capital, the new court became mobile from place to place in the south. Jiangning ( later Jiangkang, today’s Nanjing) was one of the temporary court venues. Qingzhao’s husband was appointed the Mayor of Jiangning, so the couple had to leave their Qingzhou home ( in today’s Shandong Province) to the mercy of the Jin army who burned everything to ashes in the same year, so she was told later on. For our poet, it’s the home where they had over ten years’ happy marriage life, the home with ten households of their valuable collections, and ultimately the best memories of her lifetime. And this is only the beginning of her miseries, and the starting point of a dividing line in her literature topics and intellectual sentiments, which offers a glimpse of the shifting among the intellectuals and officials. It’s a song of a collective voice illuminating not only the war’s tragedies and their irreparable effects, but the hopes and disappointments of generations onwards.

For a stronger impact on readers’ sentiment, the second stanza used repetition of syntax and words, a popular technique in English poetry also, such as “The Burden of Itys” by Oscar Wilde (1854–1900):

“And sweet the hops upon the Kentish leas, And sweet the wind that lifts the new-mown hay, And sweet the fretful swarms of grumbling bees That round and round the linden blossoms play;”


Pinying and Word -For-Word Translation:

sù zhōng qíng – the musical tune of this sone

yè lái chén zuì xiè zhuāng chí–last night I drank to sleep too late to remove make-up,

méi è chā cán zhī – the plum blooms on my hair are just bones with some withered petals.

jiǔ xǐng xūn pò chūn shuì – disturbed by the fragrance I woke from a spring sleep,

mèng yuǎn bú chéng guī – I dreamed afar but failed to make home.

rén qiāo qiāo – people are quiet,

yuè yī yī – the moon is reluctant to leave,

cuì lián chuí – light green curtains hang down.

gèng luò cán ruǐ – more time spent crushing the withered plum stamen in hand,

gèng niǎn yú xiāng - more time spent smashing the petals for more fragrance,

gèng dé xiē shí – more time spent to kill more time.



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