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  • Gordon Osing and Julia Min

点绛唇 · 蹴把秋千Swinging,and Swinging Done - to the tune of Dianjiangchun

Swinging, and Swinging Done

- to the tune of Dianjiangchun

Swinging, and Swinging Done - to the tune of Dianjiangchun 点绛唇 · 蹴把秋千 Liqingzhao
Photo retrieved from Google

Translated by Gordon Osing and Julia Min

Swinging, and swinging done, too weary

to rise and tidy-up even a maiden's hands.

She can't notice either the thick dew appearing

on the buds or the back of her dress' damp.

Someone's coming! Sock-footed, golden clasp

lost behind, she skips for her own rooms,

halting at the door, of course not looking back

for any reason more than to scent green-plums.


There was a time when the critics refused to attribute this ci to Li Qing-zhao, because its subject tests the limits of polite subject matter, both in the imagery it employs and the frank, erotic boisterousness it suggests, certainly no lady of high breeding. It was often anthologized without an author mentioned, because editors couldn't believe she wrote it. Even the feudal boudoir was supposed to reflect Confucian judgement. This poem's personage is clearly a fresh, young girl, ready to linger for a glance of perhaps a gentleman she longs to see, and still almost a girl. Perhaps the guest in her garden is none other than Zhao Mingcheng, who will soon be her betrothed!


The Source Text in Chinese:

点绛唇 · 蹴把秋千











Pinying and Word -For-Word Translation:

diǎn jiàng chún – to the tune of Dianjiangchun

cù bà qiū qiān – after playing on the swing,

qǐ lái yōng zhěng xiān xiān shǒu – get up lazy to tidy up delicate hands.

lù nóng huā shòu – the dews are heavy, flower buds tiny,

báo hàn qīng yī tòu – steaming sweat light dress is wet through.

jiàn yǒu rén lái – noticed someone coming,

wà chǎn jīn chāi liū – walk on socks my gold hairpin slip off

hé xiū zǒu - so shy, skip away.

yǐ mén huí shǒu – leaning on the door, look back,

què bǎ qīng méi xiù – but hold green plum to scent.


lù nóng huā shòu – thick dews and tiny buds, the beginning of high spring;

qīng yī – light dress made of brocade, gauze or very light fabric;

yǐ mén huí shǒu – can’t resist the urge of looking back at the visitor, a naughty tongue-in-cheek, arch and even disproportionate for someone of her class.



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