Wednesday, June 22, 2016

late spring

late spring
to the tune “silk-washing sandy brook”

in the small courtyard, idling at the window
                                    among spring’s lush colors,
the heavy curtains not yet rolled up, the shadows deep,
leaning on the railing, indifferent to the jade qin—
the distant peaks send forth clouds to hasten dim evening;
a trifling breeze blows rain, toys with soft darkness:
the pear blossoms’ urge to wither—I fear
                                    there’s no way to forbid it

Jack Hayes
© 2016
based on Li Qingzhao:
wăn xī shā

Note: Sheila's research elucidated the "jade qin" line, which reads 倚楼无语理瑶琴 (yǐ lóu wú yǔ lǐ yáo qín). A character by character translation would lead to a literal reading along these lines: "lean on building no words reason jade qin"; however, there are two idioms at play here.  倚楼 means "to lean against a railing", & Sheila discovered that this was a common trope indicating a melancholy state. In addition the negative 无 wú changes the meaning of the following characters to "indifferent to/weary of".

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons:
Pear Blossoms: Qian Xuan, ca. 1280

Public domain

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