Two Poems from the Sung Dynasty sets texts treating the subject of grief by Lu You and Li Qing Zhao, distinguished poets of the Sung Dynasty (960-1279). The first deals with the regret of love lost. The poet had married his cousin, but the union was soon forced asunder because his mother disliked her daughter-in-law. Ten years after their separation they met by chance in a park, but although still in love, they recognized that they would never be allowed to remain together. The second, poem, from the late Sung Dynasty, is a lament about the lonely, impoverished state of the poet, whose husband, a high-ranking government official, had died when the Chinese capital was evacuated during a Mongol invasion.
I. Chai Tou Feng
By Lu You
Pink Creamy hands, yellow-labeled wine.
City full of spring color and palace wall and
East wind is hateful, joys, of love scarce.
One heart full of sorrowing thoughts.
Many years of separation.
Wrong, wrong, wrong!
The spring the same as before.
She thin in vain.
Her mermaid-silk scarf tear-stained and
red-stained, wholly soaked.
Peach blossoms fall, quiet ponds and
Although our sacred mountains vows remain.
The brocade letters can’t be sent.
No more, no more, no more.
II. Sheng Sheng Man
By Li Qing Zhao
Seek, seek! Search, search! Cold, cold!
Grief, grief! Cruel, cruel! Sorrow, sorrow!
Just warm but still cold.
Most difficult to rest.
A few cups of light wine.
How canthatovercome the evening
wind’s charp rustling!
Wild geese pass, pensive.
Old time’s acquaintances.
Chrysanthemums lay bestrewn all
over the ground.
Withered and decreasing.
Now who would bear to pluck?
Leaning on the window.
How horrible so see the darkening day
Parasol tree and the misty rain.
At dusk drop by drop and drip by drip.
This grief, how could it ever be ended
by a word of sorrow.
Translated by Bright Sheng. Edited by Michael Biondi.