Light mist and heavy clouds bring endless sorrow in the daytime. "Rui-lao"
2 drifts from the "Jin-shou"
3. It is the Chong-yang
Festival 4 again. The midnight chill starts to penetrate my green
pillow and the gauze bed curtains.
At sunset I sip wine by the east fence. My sleeves are filled with faint
fragrance 5. My soul is intoxicated by the surrounding beauty. When
the west wind causes the bamboo curtain to roll up, I discover that I am thinner
than the stems of yellow flowers 6.
"Blossoms" refers to Chrysanthemum Blossoms in particular. During the Chong-yang
Festival, Li's husband was away from home. She missed him, so she wrote this
poem and sent it to him.
2 "Rui-lao" literally means "the brain of a dragon". Here
"Rui-lao" refers to
a type of fragrant spice used for incense.
3 "Jin-shou" literally means "a gold animal". Here
"Jin-shou" refers to the
shape of an incense burner.
On the ninth day of the ninth month of the Chinese lunar calendar, Chinese
people used to climb mountains, drink wine and delight in observing
chrysanthemums to celebrate the Chong-yang Festival.
She gathered chrysanthemums and tucked them in her sleeves.
6 "Yellow flowers" refers to chrysanthemums. Jade Bracelets written by
Shi-zhen Yi says, "During the Chong-yang Festival, Qing-zhao Li wrote a poem,
'Intoxicated Under the Shade of Blossoms', and mailed it to her husband, Ming-cheng
Zhao. Ming-cheng admired her talent and was ashamed that his writings were not
as good as hers. Therefore, he was determined to surpass her. He declined seeing
visitors, forgot to eat and sleep for three days, and wrote fifteen poems. Then
he combined Qing-zhao's poem with his poems and showed them to his friend, De-fu
Lu. After Lu read these poems many times, he said, 'Only two sentences are
exceedingly elegant.' Ming-cheng asked, 'Which are they?' Lu replied, 'My soul
is intoxicated by the surrounding beauty. When the west wind causes the bamboo
curtain to roll up, I discover that I am thinner than the stems of yellow
flowers.' The two sentences were written by Qing-zhao."