Women Poets of China

By Kenneth Rexroth; Ling Chung | Go to book overview

Wang Ch'ing-hui ( 13th Century)


To the tune "The River Is Red"'

Now the lotuses in the imperial lake
Must look entirely different from the old days.
I remember when I received the gracious
Rain and dew, in the Emperor's golden bed
In the jade palace, and my fame spread
Like orchid incense amongst the queens and
concubines.

I blushed like a lotus blossom
Whenever I was summoned to my Lord's side.
Suddenly, one day, war drums on horseback
Came like thunder, tearing off the sky,
And all the glorious flowery days were gone forever.
Generals scattered like dragons and tigers.
Courtiers fled like clouds in the storm.
To whom can I tell
My everlasting sorrow for the dead?
I look out on the mountains and rivers of this fastness,
And my tears mingle with blood on my sleeves.
I wake in a posthouse from dreams of dust and dirt.
Fleeing in the dawn, our palace carts
Roll through the mountain pass
Under the setting moon.
I pray to Ch'ang-O,
The girl who fled for refuge to the moon,
And ask her to permit me
To follow her to safety.

-52-

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