Too Sad with Spring Passing to Braid and Comb
- to the Tune of Huanxisha
Translated by Gordon Osing and Julia Min
Too sad with Spring passing to braid and comb,
too quick the night wind blowing the plum blooms,
too many the cloud wisps blurring the dim moon.
The cherry sachets and bed net cover my night ruins.
The censer is neglected, the jade duckling one, -
a cold spell broken only by golden rhinoceros' horn.
The consensus is that this ci was composed sometime before 1107, based on its emotional urgencies. It is sometimes titled "Boudoir Sentiments". The original text describes the lady abandoning her own ennui for an outer world, which appears to mirror them in insoluble ways. Finally she says only the fabled rhino's magic horn could dispel the gloom. The western Freud would, perhaps, find a thing or two to speculate about in that.
1. cherry sachet: red cherry, or heart-shaped pouch, used to hold fragrances, on hanging bed decorations.
2. bed net: the bed netting, hung over the usual frame over the bed, inverted, resembling the shape "dou" (斗ㄩ), also a unit of measure.
3. rhinoceros: a mythical horn, taken from an old story about Emperor Wen Di in the Sui Dynasty. When the Emperor received as a gift the golden horn of a rhino, his chambers immediately warmed and all expressed wonder. Later, the great scholar of Chinese medicine Li Shi-zhen propounded that the horn of a golden rhinoceros can drive away a chilly spell, meaning "Only in fable is there an end to this spell" .
The Source Text in Chinese:
Pinying and Word -For-Word Translation:
huàn xī shā – the musical tune;
jì zǐ shāng chūn yōng gèng shū - hair coil sad for spring lazy to comb,
wǎn fēng tíng yuàn luò méi chū - evening wind courtyard fall plum blossom begin.
dàn yún lái wǎng yuè shū shū - thin clouds come go moon dim dim.
yù yā xūn lú xián ruì nǎo - jade duck-shaped burner left aside/unused incense,
zhū yīng dòu zhàng yǎn liú sū - red cherry mosquito net covers liusu.
yí xī hái jiě pì hán wú - the rhinoceros could know drive away cold?