Recalling the Girl from Qin

Fan, Cheng-da 1 (1126 A.D.-1193 A.D.)

    The tower is too bright to have shadows. The shadows of railings lie on the reflection of the moonlight from the east wing. Under the moonlight of the east wing the blossoms of apricot trees look like snow after a day's wind and dew. The past seems to be separated from present by smoke. Time hastens the dripping of "lou-jian" 2. The gold baby dragon with horns 3 looks choked. As the lamp flowers bloom 4, the silk bed curtain looks dim. When the lamp flowers bloom, my short Spring dream brings me to the broad sky south of the Yangtze River.

1 Zhi-neng was Cheng-da Fan's other first name. He passed the advanced Exam in 1154 A.D. During Emperor Xiao's reign, Fan was the Minister of Civil Service and then the emperor's advisor. Later, he became the Governor of Shu, the Governor of Guangxi, and then the Mayor of Jin-ling City (present day Nanjing).

    The year that Cheng-da Fan was born was during the time when the Jin dynasty captured the capital of the Northern Song dynasty, bringing that dynasty to an end. The Southern Song dynasty suffered humiliation and their people lived in hardship. Poverty in childhood motivated Fan to struggle for a better life. As he grew up and became a mayor and a governor, he was always courteous to the worthy, condescending to the scholarly, benevolent to people, and kind to creatures. His poetry is full of patriotic spirit.

2 "Lou" means clepsydra; "jian" means the arrow indicating the time. Thus, "lou-jian" means the arrow of a water clock.

3 "The gold baby dragon with horns" refers to the shape of the water clock.

4 "Lamp flowers" refers to the sparks that fly when the wick of the lamp burns down.