The Women of Yue, Five Poems


 
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The Women of Yue, Five Poems
Li Bai 701-762

I

She is a southern girl of Changgan Town;
Her face is prettier than star or moon,
And white like frost her feet in sandals--
She does not wear the crow-head covers.

II

Many a girl of the south is white and lucent.
Often she will steer her shallop and play.
In her coquettish eyes
Lurks the lure of the spring-time.
She will pluck the flowers of the water
For amorous wayfarers.

III

She is gathering lotus in the river of Ye.
She spies a passer-by, and turns round,
Singing her boat song.
She laughs, and hides away among lilies;
And seeming shy, she will not show her face again.

IV

She, a Dongyang girl, stands barefoot on the bank,
He, a boat man of Kuaiji, is in his boat.
The moon has not set.
They look at each other--broken-hearted.

V

The water of the Mirror Lake
Is clear like ethe moon.
The girl of Yexi
Has a face wihite as snow.
Her silvery image
Trembles in the silvery ripple.
 
Yuè Nǚ Cí Wǔ Shǒu
Lǐ Bái 701-762



Chánggàn wú érnǚ,
Méi mù yàn xīn yuè.
Jī shàng zú rú shuāng,
Bù zhuó yā tóu wà.

Èr

Wú ér duō báixī,
Hǎo wéi dàng zhōu jù.
Mài yǎn zhì chūn xīn,
Zhé huā diào xíngkè.

Sān

Yēxī cǎi lián nǚ,
Jiàn kè zhào gē huí.
Xiào rù héhuā qù,
Yáng xiū bù chūlái.



Dōngyáng sù zú nǚ,
Kuàijī sù gě láng.
Xiāng kàn yuè wèi duò,
Báidì duàn gān cháng.



Jìnghú shuǐ rú yuè,
Yēxī nǚ sì xuě.
Xīn zhuāng dàng xīn bō,
Guāngjǐng liǎng qí jué.
 
Translator: Shigeyoshi Obata 小畑薰良

Notes:
In these poems Li Po records what he saw of the "southern" girls in Jiangsu and Zhejiang. These provinces were under the king of Yue in the 5th and 6th centuries B.C.

Changkan is near the city of Nanjing, and was at Li Po's time inhabited by the lower class of people.

The crowhead covers are a kind of shoes worn by the upper-class women of the north. So named on account of their shape and very small size--small feet seem to have been already at a premium. "It is interesting,"remarks a native critic demurely, "to note Li Po's admiration for a barefoot woman."
_________

From the book The Works of Li Po, first published in Tokyo, Japan in 1935, Excellent English translations by a Japanese scholar.

 
 
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