A Lotus Circlet (The evening during the Lantern Festival)
Jiang, Jie 1 (1245-1319)
The orchid blossoms are fragrant. After the snow stops, the pond pavilion is
as beautiful as a picture. The spring wind arrives with flying speed. Bao-chai
Tower 2 is filled with flute music. Glazed lamps emit colorful light.
Now the lamps are hanging in vain. The moon tonight is not like the moon of
those years. It used to be dimmed by clouds of dust. In addition, I become lazy
and timid. I am too shy to playfully compete with moths 3.
When the night bell starts to ring, the villages by the river become quiet. I
ask the heavens about the principle that governs who prospers and who decline,
and pray for my father country. After extinguishing the candle, I seem to see a
silk handkerchief and a carriage decorated with gold flowers. The silver powders
on the note paper made in Wu City glitter. I cannot wait to write about the
scenery of my father country in a causal style. I smile at my female neighbor
who has a shiny hair bun. She is leaning against the window and singing the
song, "The Sun Sets in the West".
1 Sheng-you was Jie Jiang's other first name. He was a native of Yang-xian
City (present day Yi-xing City). In 1274, he passed the Advanced Exam. He called
himself Zhu-shan (bamboo mountain). After the Song dynasty was destroyed by
Mongolians, he did not want to serve the Mongolian government, so he chose to
live in seclusion. The summary of Si-ku-chuan-shu says, "Jie Jiang's
words are profound; his rhythm is harmonious and fluent. His poems are
considered the best example of fluent rhyming." Xi-zai Liu says, "The fluency of Jie Jiang's poems is somewhat artificial, but his poems are refined, exquisite,
and creative. Jie Jiang considers Da-zu Shi's poetry virtuous and Wen-ying Wu's
poetry refreshing and elegant. Chang-qing Liu called himself the Great Wall of
Wu-yan poems (every stanza contains exactly five Chinese characters). It can be
said that Jie Jiang is the Great Wall of prose poems (ci)."
2 Bao-chai refers to a woman's jewelry. Bao-chai Tower was a music house
where female singers and dancers entertained the audience.
3 "Moths" refers to the moths throwing themselves on lanterns or women's
headdresses. Chinese people use a moth's antennae to describe the beauty of a
woman's eyebrows. "Moths" can also refer to women in general.