Watching the Sea Tide 1
Qin, Guan 2 (1049-1100 CE)
The plum blossoms are sparse and serenely elegant. Ice melts completely and
water discharges its mighty force. The east wind secretly steals my best years.
At the grand gathering in Jin-gu Park 3 and in the alleys near Tong-tuo
Street 4 we cautiously trod on the flat sand after the rain stopped.
I still regret that I made a mistake by leaving in a carriage
flower petals toss and butterflies dance. My yearning and lament for the elapsed
time intertwine in my mind. The hanging willow branches and the road lined with
peach trees randomly deliver the beauty of Spring to nearby homes.
Flageolet music played at the evening banquet in the West Garden
Colorful lanterns obscured the moonlight. The carriage's flying awning hindered
me from watching flowers. The same garden is still filled with blooming orchids.
Only the visitors grow old. It is lamentable to visit this garden again. The
smoke grows darker and the flag of a tavern flutters slantingly in the wind. As
I look into the distance from the tower, I saw many perched crows. Even though I
wish to return home, I unconsciously follow the flowing water
the most remote region of the earth.
1 Qi-qing and He Sun were friends when both of them were commoners. Later, He
Sun became the Mayor of Hang-zhou City. The entrances of his mansion were
closely guarded. Qi-qing could not see He Sun. Consequently, he wrote a poem
entitled "Watching the Sea Tide" and then went to see a famous courtesan called Chu-chu. He gave her the poem and told her,
"I want to see Mayor He Sun, but I
have no way to meet him. Please sing this song at Sun's banquet. If he asks who
wrote this poem, you say, 'Mr. Qi-qing Liu.'" At the Midautumn Festival, Chu-chu
sang the song sweetly. Then He Sun immediately invited Qi-qing Liu to attend the
2 Shao-you, Tai-xu and Huai-hai-ju-shi were Guan Qin's other first names. He
was a native of the Gao-you City during the Song dynasty. In 1085 CE, he passed
the Advanced Exam. In the beginning of the Yuan-you Period, Shi Su recommended
him as a senior secretary of the Bureau of Archives and an editor at the Bureau
of National History based on his talent and integrity. In the beginning of
Shao-sheng Period, he was dismissed from his positions because his party lost in
a power struggle. He became an official in charge of wine tax at Chu-zhou City.
Later, he moved to Chen-zhou City. After he became an editor at Heng-zhou City,
he moved to Lei-zhou City. In 1100 CE, he was allowed to return to the capital,
but on his way he died at Teng-zhou City.
3 "Jin-gu" means "golden valley".
4 "Tong-tuo" means "bronze camel".
5 "Leaving in a carriage" means "parting with the woman Quan Qin admired".
6 "The West Garden" refers to Jin-gu Park. Zhi Cao's poem says,
"As we visited the West Garden on a cool evening,/ Our flying carriages followed
7 “The flowing water” refers to the woman Quan Qin admired or a water path
that might lead to her whereabouts.