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  • Julia Min

钓台 The River Traffic by Yan’s Fishing Pavilion








The River Traffic by Yan’s Fishing Pavilion

translated by Julia Min

Look at all the boats coming for a token of fame,

and the ships sail away for silver and gold.

I can’t help feeling ashamed of my escape,

so we sneaked passed in midnight’s cold.


Again, our poet chose the form of Poem instead of Ci when she expressed a stronger theme, an open criticism against the weakness of the ruling Court in military defence, and more ironically, the gentlemen’s society that were still busy in the hustle and bustle of fame-seeking game when they were expected to seek for national integrity threated by Jin from the North. Even Li Qingzhao herself ran for her life following the Empress Dowager’s long team of escape, hence, she chose to pass Yan’s fishing spot in the dark feeling so ashamed of doing it in daylight. It appears as if it’s her shame but a much stronger irony is meant for the gentlemen’s society.

Females in the Song were not accepted in the army, otherwise she might have joined and written to encourage a stronger defence in some military force. I wouldn’t be surprised considering her temperament since teenage years being an elegant lady with a heart of heroic courage, as we may also see in her other works – By the River of Wujiang (“Alive, I’d be a hero for the people,/Dead, a paragon of ghosts in Hell.”); The Eight Verses Tower,……


1. Yan’s Fishing Pavilion: Legend has it that this is the riverbank spot where Yan Zilin used to do fishing when he chose to live in seclusion rather than living for fame and money in a high official position offered by Emperor Guangwu of the Han Dynasty ( Liu Xiu 5-57 AD). He is respected for his courage in pursuing the value in his heart rather than the social value of the chaotic world, the heroic integrity Li Qingzhao failed to see in the Southern Song’s Court officials.

Pinying and Word -For-Word Translation:

diào tái

jù jiàn zhī yuán yīn lì wǎng ,

biǎn zhōu yì shì wéi míng lái 。

wǎng lái yǒu kuì xiān shēng dé ,

tè dì tōng xiāo guò diào tái 。



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