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Poems by Zhu Shuzhen (Southern Song), Nathan Sturman, translator

Huanxisha*: Qingming

In lanes of Spring the tender peaches spew forth blooms of red.
Springtime dresses first tried on, of lightest silk and thread.
In warm and mild smoke and breeze the swallow builds her nest.
The curtain to my little yard remains unmoved and straight
And I sequestered in my room behind the family gate.
Qing Ming scenes again make one distracted and depressed!

*Huanxisha, the melody, refers to the Huan River in Zhejiang where Xi Shi, the beauty of ancient legend, washed clothes as a youth.(trans)


Pusaman: Autumn (1)

One moment autumn starts to stir and next the wutong's nude.
The crickets' chirping further chills the cold and lonely mood.
Asleep by lamplight, pillow in its beam
The moon clears up an inconclusive dream.
I rise and pull aside the screen of jade
Where could that cold laundrystone* be laid?
Alone I lean against the fence and fret
Enough to catch my death from cold and wet.

*This is again an allusion to Xi Shi. (trans)


Pusaman: Autumn (2)

Pavilion by a mountain pond with autumn halfway past
Alone in my bedchamber into deepest sadness cast.
As new sorrows of all sorts unfold
I knit my brows* as in the days of old.
I rise and stand outside my entry screen
Some scattered passing fireflies are seen.
The moon, thank heaven, pities me below
And won't indulge what I now wish to know.

*Again a reference to legendary Xi Shi, who is said to have been beautiful even when clutching her chest and knitting her brows during an attack of angina. (trans)


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Translation of Shengshengman and other Ci poems by Li Qingzhao (1084-1151?)