Magnolia (To tease my wife Tui Lin)

Liu, Ke-zhuang 1 (1187 A.D.-1269 A.D.)

    I ride horses in Chang-an City 2 year after year. Hotels seem to be my home and my home seems to be a hotel. Each day I spend my money on wine. By candlelight we "hu-lu" 3 all night. I may easily obtain love poems woven on a cloth from your loom 4, but I can hardly understand the thoughts in your mind 5. Man should go northwest to recover the Divine Land 6. He should not shed tears beside the bridge on Water West.

1 Ke -zhuang Liu was a native of Fu-tian City in present day Fujian Province. He had the privilege to become a government official because of his father's great contribution to China. Once he wrote a poem titled "Fallen Plum Blossoms". It says, "It is a mistake to allow Mr. Dong (east) to hold power/ For he is jealous of recluses with integrity." Slanderers copied this poem and showed it to the powerful. As a result, he was not given any meaningful jobs for ten years. His poem "Visiting Plum Blossoms" says, "Meng-de was demoted because he wrote a poem about peach trees./ Chang-yuan offended the incumbent because he wrote a poem about willow trees./ Fortunately, I know nothing about peach or willow trees. However, my poem 'Fallen Plum Blossoms' has caused me trouble for ten years." In 1246 A.D., he was given a certificate which was equivalent to passing the Advanced Exam. Xu Feng says, "You Lu, Qi-ji Xin and Ke-zhuang Liu were the three most important poets in the Southern Song dynasty. Like You Lu, he moved south to devote himself to the emperor and his country. Like Qi-ji Xin, he aimed to contribute to his country, not just through poetry, but also through action."

2 Chang-an City was China's capital in the Tang dynasty.

3 "Hu" means call; "lu" means hound. "Hu-lu" means "throw dice for gambling". The Bible of Gambling written by Hong Bao says, "In ancient times, Wu-cao invented 'Five Dice' for gambling. The winning prizes are assigned to four levels: hound (five blacks being the best throw), owl, pheasant, and calf. The order is arranged from the highest to the lowest. Yi Liu of the Jin dynasty played the dice, he got a pheasant, the rest all got calves. Yi Liu was so happy that he jumped on his bed and said, 'To get a hound is not beyond my ability, but to become an expert at throwing dice requires constant practice.' Yu Liu, the founding emperor of the Liu-song dynasty, was a spectator. Having heard what Yi Liu said, he took over the dice and said, 'Let me try to answer for you.' After the throw, four of them were black. The fifth one turned, jumped, and remained undetermined. Then Yu Liu shouted, 'Hound!' and the undetermined one turned out to be black as he wished."

4 Beautiful Love Stories says, "Tao Dou of Former Qin, one of the sixteen kingdoms in the Jin dynasty, disliked his wife, Su. After he became the Mayor of Xiang-yang City, he stopped contacting his wife. Consequently, Su wove a poem on a cloth with her loom and sent the cloth to Dou. After Dou read her poem, he thought her design was exquisite and moving. Therefore, he sent a carriage to welcome Su back."

5 This sentence means "You said you love me, but I cannot tell what you really think." In other words, work is more important than love.

6 The Divine Land refers to the northwest part of China (present day Henan and Shaanxi Provinces) which was occupied by the Jin dynasty, the enemy of the Southern Song dynasty, during Liu's time.