Long Pole Lane 1

Li, Bai   (701 A.D.-762 A.D.)

When my hair first covered my forehead,
I gathered flowers to play in my front yard.
You rode a bamboo stick horse and came to me.
We leaned on the railing around a well and played with green plums.
Both of us lived in Long Pole Lane and had no fear of strangers
Because we were young and innocent.
I became your wife at the age of fourteen.
My shy face never bloomed.
I usually lowered my head, turning toward a dark wall.
Even if someone called me a thousand times,
I would not look back once.
At fifteen I began to overcome my shyness, feeling more cheerful and bold.
I wished we could live to become dust and ashes together.
I kept my promise as steadfastly as the man who held the bridge pier 2,
I never expected that one day I would ascend the legendary Husband Watching Platform 3.
When I was sixteen,
You left on a long journey to Shu 4,
Passing Ju-Tang Gorge and Yan-Yu Boulder 5.
In May going around the boulder is treacherous.
The sound of apes high on the cliffs is sad.
I have waited for you so long
That the the steps you trod in front of the door grow green moss,
So lush it is hard to clean.
Fallen leaves foretell the early arrival of the autumn wind.
In August, a pair of yellow butterflies flew over the grass of our west garden.
I felt sad when watching them fly.
My young face becomes old because I worry about you all day.
When you decide to leave for home,
Please write to me in advance.
Even if I have to travel as far as Chang-Feng-Sha 6,
I would like to be there to welcome you.

1 Long Pole Lane is the name of a melody. Its content usually describes the life of a sailor's wife. Long Pole Lane was also the old name of a lane in Nanjing.

2 The chapter on "Robber Zhi" in Zhuang Zi says, "Wei Sheng had a date with his lover under a bridge. The woman did not arrive, but the tide came in. Wei held on to the bridge pier to keep his promise, so he drowned."

3 It is said that there was a woman in ancient times who ascended a platform every day to watch for her husband. This was because he had traveled far and had not returned for a long time. Eventually, she became a stone.

4 Shu refers to Sichuan Province.

5 Yan-Yu Boulder is a huge rock in Ju-Tang Gorge. In May, the water rises and the boulder submerges. It is easy for a boat to strike the rock and sink.

6 Today the old location of Chang-Feng-Sha (long-wind-sand) is a riverside twenty miles east of An-Qing City in Anhui Province. This riverside is 300 miles away from Long Pole Lane.