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To the Tune of "Joy of Eternal Union" 1

Li, Qing-zhao (1084-1155 CE)

The setting sun melts into the gold sky.
The sunset clouds gather like a single piece of jade.
Where is my lover?
Wisps of mist envelope the willow branches.
The sorrowful flute music "Plum Blossoms Fall" is heard from a distance.
I am oblivious to Spring's awakening.
It is warm and mild during this Lantern Festival. 2
However, can we predict that we will have no more wind and rain? 3
I graciously decline the invitation of my friends
When they send a scented carriage drawn by fine horses
To summon me to their party for wine and poetry.

In the golden age of the capital,
I had plenty of free time in my boudoir.
I recall I made too much of the Lantern Festival.
I wore pearl blossoms, a golden tassel,
And a hat adorned with green feathers.
My costume was designed to compete for beauty.
With a haggard face and frosty disheveled hair,
Now I fear to be seen when going out in the evening.
I would rather sit behind a window curtain
And listen to the talk and laughter of others.


1 Secretary Du of the Tang dynasty mastered poetry. His neighbor had a daughter named Xiang Su. She could recite and understand many of the best Chinese poems. She was especially drawn to Du's poems. Du and Su became friends across the wall separating their houses. Later, Du was exiled to He-shuo City because of his servant's accusation. Before he went into exile, he wrote a poem titled "Joy of Eternal Union" to say farewell to Su. Su read this poem three times and then committed suicide. The title of Li's poem originates from this story.
    The title of the following audio file is "Joy of Eternal Union":

2 This line gives the reason that Qing-zhao Li's friends invited her to their party.

3 This line gives the excuse Qing-zhao Li used to graciously decline her friends’ invitation. This line also hinted at her worry about her kingdom's future after the tragic experiences she and her kingdom had suffered. Although the Kingdom of Jin signed a peace treaty with the Kingdom of Southern Song, the emperor's court in the Kingdom of Southern Song remained corrupt. The corruption in the emperor's court was what Qing-zhao Li worried about.