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To the Tune of "Heavenly Fragrance" 1

He, Zhu 2 (1052-1125 CE)

The mist fills the woods.
The sun sets over the distant mountains.
The sounds of bells and drums continue during the sunset.
The candlelight reflects from the bamboo blind.
Autumn insects remind people to sew winter clothing.
The harshness of Autumn is painful.
The woman cherishing the memory of her lover cannot fall asleep
For the pounding sound of washing of clothes disturbs her 3.
The sound also startles me,
An official who is weary of living away from his family
And whose best years are about to end.

In my youth, I was proud to be a heavy drinker.
I asked the Eastern God 4 to grant me Spring all year long.
Since then, I have led a wandering life
By riding north and sailing south.
With whom shall I speak of my sorrow?
Only the moon still remembers the places I used to travel.
It comes accompanied by clouds
And says farewell to my dreams when it leaves.


1 The title of the following audio file is "Heavenly Fragrance":
2 The Biography of Zhu He, written by Meng-de Ye (1077-1148), says, "Fang-hui was Zhu He's alternate first name. He was a native of Wei-zhou County (present day Ji-xian County in Henan Province). Zhu He said that he was a descendent of Adviser Zhi-zhang He who lived by Lake Qing-hu during the Tang dynasty, so Zhu He called himself "Qing-hu-yi-lao" (Lake Qing-hu was Lake Jing-hu; "Jing-hu" means "mirror lake"; yi-lao means "a veteran of the preceding dynasty"). He had a protruding forehead and an iron-colored face. He loved to discuss state affairs in a straightforward manner that led people to consider him chivalrous. However, he studied broadly and mastered effective use of the language. His essays were deep, euphemistic, graceful and tightly-structured like embroidery. He was also good at writing poetry. He collected what people had discarded, modified it slightly, and then assimilated it into his own writing; it became fresh and outstanding. Zhu He claimed that his writing had reached such an advanced level that Shang-yin Li and Ting-yun Wen could not catch up. His first position was as the supervisor of Tai-yuan City. After Ting-jian Huang returned from his exile and read Zhu He's poems, he compared Zu He's poems to those of the great poet Yuan-hui Xie. However, Zhu He was unable to advance politically because of his irascibility and excessive drinking. Later, he became the assistant mayor at Si-zhou City and then Tai-ping-zhou City. He was dissatisfied with his position, so he retired early to Su-zhou City (in present day Zhejiang Province). During his retirement, he compiled his poems into a book titled Poetry of Eastern Mountain.
    Zhu He was the grandson of Queen Xiao-hui and married a daughter of the imperial family. A prodigy in childhood, he later succeeded in his political career and became the emperor's advisor. His only weakness was his ugly face. The Notes written in the Old Hermitage, authored by You Lu, says, "People called Zhu He 'Gui-tou (Gui means 'ghost'; tou means 'head') He'." Therefore, during his lifetime Zhu He could hardly capture the heart of any beautiful woman.
    Zhu He's Ci poetry was both vigorous and gentle. It contained a variety of styles. Lei Zhang (1054-1114) praised him by saying, "Zhu He's poetry is majestic like Jin and Zhang's Mansions, charming like Qiang Mao and Xi-shi's beauty, virtuous as Yuan Qu and Yu Song's poetry, heroic like Dong-po Su and Bai Li's poetry."

3 In ancient China, a washerwoman had to pound wet clothes on a flat stone with a wooden pestle in order to make water penetrate quilts or winter coats evenly. The woman was disturbed because she worried that the washed clothing might not be delivered to her distant lover before winter arrived.

4 In Chinese mythology, the Eastern God is the god in charge of Spring.