Enjoying the Cool Evening After Taking a Bath 1
Su, Dong-po (1036 A.D.-1101 A.D.)
A newborn swallow 2 flies into a beautiful house. There are no
people around. It is quiet. The shade of the pagoda tree reverses its direction
at noon. After taking a bath, she enjoys the cool air in the evening. As she
plays with a white silk fan, her hand and the fan shine like jade. She grows
tired and leans on a pillow. Suddenly, a sound awakens her while she sleeps
soundly in solitude. She thinks there is someone knocking on her bedroom door.
The heavenly song in her dream has flown away. The knock turns out to be only
the wind stirring bamboo trees.
After all the wild flowers have shriveled, the blossoms of pomegranate
accompany your solitude 3, half-protruding red lace. She plucks a
rich and gaudy blossom to examine carefully. It seems to contain layer upon
layer of fragrant charm. She fears that the west wind will soon startle the
blossoms to yellow. In front of flowers, she cannot bear to touch wine. It is as
though she were waiting for you to come to visit them. Mingled with rouge, her
tears are streaming down.
When Su was the mayor of Qian-tang City, the city hired official courtesans
to entertain guests. One courtesan was called Xiu-lan (beautiful orchid). She
was clever and articulate. One day the city held a party by a lake. All the
courtesans arrived on time except Xiu-lan. The party manager sent people to urge
her to come. It took quite a while for her to arrive. Su asked her why she was
late. She replied, "After taking a bath, I felt very tired and fell asleep.
Suddenly, I heard an urgent knock on my bedroom door. I got up and asked who was
there. Then they urged me to hurry because I would be late to serve." Because
she spoke truthfully, Su forgave her. However, Su's assistant, the party
manager, was still angry and continued to interrogate her. In that season
pomegranates were blooming luxuriantly. Xiu-lan plucked one blossom and gave it
to her interrogator. The manager continued to become more furious. Therefore, Su
wrote this poem as a song for them to listen to as they drank wine. The
manager's anger immediately subsided.
The newborn swallow refers to the young girl, Xiu-lan.
Here "you" refers to the party manager.