A Butterfly Loves Flowers

Ou-yang, Xiu (1007 A.D.-1072 A.D.)

    Where did the traveling clouds 1 go in these past several days? She forgot to return. I barely notice that Spring will end soon. It is the time of the Cold Food Festival 2. To a tree of whose yard, along the road lined with all kinds of grass and flowers, is her fragrant carriage tied? I frequently talk to myself tearfully, leaning against the banister of a tall tower. A pair of swallows fly over. I wonder if they have seen her on the road. My agitated Spring sorrow is as chaotic as the drifting willow seeds. I wish I could find her and cling to her in my dreams.

1 It is said that one time the king of the State of Chu (c. 300 B.C.) visited Hill T where he had sex with 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 traveling clouds" refers to Ou-yang's girl friend.

2 The Cold Food Festival occurs one or two days before the Pure Brightness. Some say the purpose of the Cold Food Day is to honor Hermit Zhi-Tui Jie. Others say the day originated from the Zhou dynasty's old tradition of prohibiting fire. On this day, people are prohibited from using fire in the kitchen and, as a result, they eat only cold food.