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Untitled III 1

Li, Shang-yin (812?-858 CE)

Meeting is difficult;
Parting is also hard.
The east wind loses its power;
Many flowers wither.
Only after a Spring silkworm dies may it stop spinning its silk 2;
Only after a candle's wick burns to ashes may its tears start to dry.
Facing the mirror in the morning, you are worried that your hair is changing color;
Reciting poems in the evening, you feel the chill of the moonlight.
Peng Mountain 3 is not far from here;
I will send a blue bird 4 to watch over you.


1 After reading Li's love poem, one may desire to view the following video,, to see how a modern Chinese musician expresses his yearning for love.

2 In Chinese, silk and yearning have the same pronunciation, "si". Chinese people often describe hair as three thousand silk threads of care. According to these senses, this line says, "one yearns for love until one dies."

3 Peng Mountain was a brief name for Peng-lai Mountain. It was a fabled island abode of immortals. Here "Peng Mountain" refers to the dwelling of the person for whom the poem was written.

4 The chapter on "The Western Wasteland" in The Seas and Mountains Classic says, "In the west there exists a mountain where the Queen Mother of the West (Mother of the Supreme Deity of Taoism; 'West' refers to Heaven) lives. There are also three birds with red heads and black eyes." A footnote says, 'The three birds are the messengers of the Queen Mother of the West." The Story of Emperor Wu-di of the Han Dynasty says, "Before the Queen Mother of the West visited Emperor Wu-di, she sent a blue bird to the palace." Consequently, later generations used “a blue bird” to symbolize a messenger.