Old troubador floating on lake Dongting
Remembering An Old Troubador
Dai Biaoyuan 1244-1310
In better days he sang of peonies, purple and red,
Holding vermillion tasseled sandlewood clappers.
Now, white haired, he sings in Jiangnan for a cup of wine,
No one would know he is another Li Gunian!
Purple and red peonies
in bright sunlight,
a silver score.
singing for a jug of wine,
No one to realize
he's another Li Guinian!
Mǔdan hóng zǐ yàn yáng tiān,
Tánbǎn zhū sī jǐn sè jiān.
Tóu bái Jiāngnán yī zūn jiǔ,
Wúrēn zhī shì Lǐ Guīnián.*
See Du Fu's quatrain 'Bumping Into Li GuinianIn Jiangnan'.
Li Gunian was a famous singer in the court of the Tang emperor Xuan Zong. During the An Lushan rebellion of 756 he fled to Chengdu with the emperor. Years later in 770 the poet Du Fu found him in more humble circumstances on the shore of the Dongting Lake in Jiangnan, the area south of the Changjiang.