The Lane of Black Clothing 1

Liu, Yu Xi (772 A.D.-842 A.D.)

The wild grass beside the Redbird Bridge blooms.
The setting sun on the entrance to the Lane of Black Clothing shines at a slant.
The swallows that used to flock to the estates of Wang and Xie
Fly to the houses of commoners 2.

1 The Lane of Black Clothing was a lane in Nanjing, south of Qin-Huai River. During the Three-Kingdom Period, Country Wu built military camps there. The soldiers wore black uniforms, so the lane was called the Lane of Black Clothing. Aristocratic families of the Eastern Jin dynasty, like Dao Wang and An Xie, all lived in this neighborhood.

2 Through the description of the great changes that occurred on the Lane of Black Clothing in Nanjing between 600 A.D. and 800 A.D., the poem reveals that a family which used to be wealthy and powerful cannot avoid the fate of decline. It also shows that Liu was concerned with the change of the world through time, the rise and fall of fortune, and the replacement of the old by the new.