Monday, April 18, 2016

meeting Li Guinian by chance south of the river

meeting Li Guinian by chance south of the river

I sought & found you often in Prince Qi’s residence
& heard you sing how many times in Cui Nine’s hall?

south of the river the landscape appears exquisite:
now as blossoms fall to meet you once more by chance.

Jack Hayes

© 2016
Based on Du Fu:
jiāng nán féng lĭ guī nián


  • Li Guinian was a renowned singer & a leading figure in Emperor Xuanzong’s musical troupe. It’s worth noting that the times Du Fu would have seen Li Guinian at Prince Qi’s residence would have been before the chaos that ensued following the 755 An Lushan rebellion. The poem dates from the last year of Du Fu’s life, 770, when both he & Li Guinian have been displaced to the southern provinces following 15 years of turmoil within the empire; they are now far from the northern Imperial city of Chang'an referred to in the first couplet.
  • Prince Qi was the brother of Emperor Xuanzong & himself a noted patron of the arts
  • An original note from Du Fu: “Cui Nine was Cui Di, Director of the Palace Administration, the younger brother of the Secretariat Director Cui Shi” – this is quoted by Stephen Owen in his complete Du Fu.

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons:
"Branch of Flowering White Jasmine": This album leaf painting of ink and color on silk is attributed to the early 12th century Chinese artist Zhao Chang. 
Public domain

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