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Mr. Nan-xiang 1 (Writing an inscription on the wall of the geisha house at Nan-jian-zhou City)

Pan, Ting-jian 2 (1205-1246)

    I fear to lean against the banister. Beneath the tower a creek sounds; beyond the tower mountains loom. Only the water from the mountain well remains the same. The night rain and morning clouds 3 have gone and will not return. I wonder who is preening her apparel under the moon. It must be a phoenix 4 walking on tiptoe. The moon is setting and frost falls. The night is about to end. I pluck a plum blossom and appreciate it alone.




1 Shi-chuan Gao of the State of Jin lived in Nan-xiang (southern village) in seclusion and thus used the village's name as his family name.

2 Zi-yan was Tin-jian Panís first name. In 1235, he passed the Advanced Exam, winning third place. Later, he became the president of the Imperial University and then the assistant prefect of Tan City.

3 It is said that the king of the State of Chu (c. 300 B.C.) once visited Gao-tang City and he made love to a woman in his dream. She told him, "I am a goddess living south of Wu Mountain. Because the mountain is an obstacle between us, I will become morning clouds and travel as night rain to meet you at your balcony." Here "the night rain and morning clouds" refers to a beautiful geisha girl.

4 "A phoenix" refers to a geisha girl who is as beautiful as a heavenly bird (goddess).