top of page
  • Julia Min

鹧鸪天 . 枝上流莺和泪闻 The Yellow Orioles Are Singing Good Morning

鹧鸪天 . 枝上流莺和泪闻











The Yellow Orioles Are Singing Good Morning

- to the tune “Francolin Sky”

written by Li Qingzhao / Qin Guan / Anonymous

translated by Julia Min

The yellow orioles are singing good morning,

waking me again to tears on my streaked cheeks.

No more news from messenger geese this spring;

Only dreams could take me beyond for reunion.

Alone, I weary the long day with drinking,

but wine’s never enough to drive the pain.

Till the night finds candles burned out, I hear

the pear petals falling like tears in chasing rain.


This could be Li Qingzhao’s work, and then it would have been most likely written soon after her husband’s death when her misery was at the peak. The way she tried to kill her sad days and nights with wine matches her habit at a time of melancholy.

The see-saw structure moves from outside to inside, from near to far followed by inside to outside again, a typical Chinese yin-yang balance enriching our imagination in the appreciation. Her sentiment is strongly presented through the contrast of spring, a time of warmth and vitality, and her frozen heart at her husband’s death. The subjects are well-chosen for their symbolic meanings: the orioles, the flying geese, the wine drinking, the candlelight in her room, and the falling blossoms of pear trees.


1. “Francolin Sky”: the musical tune of Zhegutian (鹧鸪天);

2. ‘the yellow orioles’: the birds that tweet beautifully in spring, representing cheerful promising message;

3. ‘messenger geese’ symbolic of eternal love, often referred to as messengers between lovers in Chinese poetry;

4. ‘the wine’: this could be fruit wine or flower wine or rice wine Chinese have been drinking since ancient times; Grape wine was not popular in China especially after the capital moved to Middle Kingdom ( Henan Province today) where no vineyard was found and there were so many other fruit wine on the market.

5. ‘the candles’: candlelight at night usually implies loneliness, especially a lady missing her husband who has left her for work or for good.

6. ‘the tears of pear petals falling in chasing rain’: pears and pear blossoms represent separation, the finishing of a relationship, hence the poetic eye would see the falling blossoms like tears of lovers.


1.  李清照文集 作者:(北宋)李清照著,刘振鹏



bottom of page