Ziye’s Ballads of the Four Seasons* Li Bai (701-762)
Tr. YK Chan 陈耀国译
* Note: 亦作”子夜吳歌”。Also known as “Ziye’s Song of Wu”.
“子夜” (Midnight) was the name of a woman in the Jin 晉 Dynasty (265 – 420), who allegedly started this ballad style of poem in southern China.
Maiden Luofu in the land of Qin,
Picks mulberry leaves by the river.
Her pale arms stretched across the green bough,
In bright sunlight her red dress shimmers.
Silkworms famished I’d like to go,
Ought not to loiter here your five-horse carriage.
Mirror Lake stretches far and wide,
Teeming with lotus blossoms nigh.
In the fifth moon when Xi Shi the beauty picks the flowers,
Onlookers amass in Yuoye1 for such a spectacular.
Before moonrise her boat returns,
To the royal house as heads turn.
1 Xi Shi’s hometown
The moon shines bright over Chang An City;
Household laundry bats are stirring the night.
Autumn breezes forever blow and blow,
Always carry my heart to Gate Jadeite.
When will all the Tartars be conquered,
To let my dear husband quit this distant fight?
Next morn the courier is setting off;
My warrior’s gown has to be sewn tonight.
Slender hands pulling a chilly needle;
Those scissors can hardly be held tight.
To send the tailored garment far away,
When will it reach Lintao and be alright?