Li Qingzhao


I look for what I miss; I know not what it is.
I feel so sad, so drear, So lonely, without cheer.
How hard is it to keep me fit in this lingering cold!

乍暖还寒时候,最难将息。 三杯两盏淡酒,怎敌他晚来风急?
Hardly warmed up by cup on cup of wine so dry,
Oh, how could I endure at dusk the drift of wind so swift?

It breaks my heart, alas!
To see the wild geese pass,
For they are my acquaintances of old.

The ground is covered with yellow flowers.
Faded and fallen in showers.
Who will pick them up now?

Sitting alone at the window, how Could I but quicken
The pace of darkness that won’t thicken?

On plane’s broad leaves a fine rain drizzles
As twilight grizzles.

Oh, what can I do with a grief
Beyond belief!

Li Qingzhao was born in a family of scholars in 1084. Her early life was prosperous. Her father li Gefei had a large collection of books. However, when wars entered the central plains, her peaceful life was changed.

Li Qingzhao’s husband died of illness in the wars. What makes Li sadder is, her husband’s cultural heritage collections were also lost in this period. She later remarried to Zhang Ruzhou, but was subjected to violent treatment after marriage, which led her to decide to divorce, which required great courage in the patriarchal society at that time.

After experiencing a series of hardships in life, Li Qingzhao wrote down all the loneliness and turbulence in this poem. There are many classical images of expressing emotion in this poem.

“the wild goose” is a sad image, because once the wild goose always brought the husband’s news when he is away at work, now the husband has died, what hope can the wild goose bring to the poet?

“The yellow flower” is also an important image. She recalled drinking wine with her husband to appreciate chrysanthemum, and now that the flowers fall, her husband died, she had to sit alone at the window, watching the yellow flowers, wondering how to stay up until dark.




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