Art and Aesthetics · Death · relationships

Poem Without a Title 15

no-15Once upon a time there was a beautiful woman who just couldn’t leave her home. Her wealthy father thought every suitor was not good enough for her and she never married. Too late, her face grew wrinkled and old. “It doesn’t matter,” she said to her weeping father. “I am changing into something else. It is natural. We all grow old and wrinkled. Why should we fear it? Life is change, and this is just another new journey that is beginning, like a chrysalis, or a butterfly, or a newt and a frog. That’s how it should be. Why should I fear what is inevitable?”Her father just shook his head and looked at her with sorrowful eyes.

何处哀筝随急管,  hé chǔ āi zhēng suí jí guǎn
樱花永巷垂杨岸。  yīng huā yǒng xiàng chuí yáng àn
东家老女嫁不售,  dōng jiā lǎo nǚ jià bù shòu
白日当天三月半。  bái rì dàng tiān sān yuè bàn
溧阳公主年十四,  lì yáng gōng zhǔ nián shí sì
清明暖后同墙看。  qīng míng nuǎn hòu tóng qiáng kàn
归来展转到五更,  guī lái zhǎn zhuǎn dào wǔ gēng
梁间燕子闻长叹。  liáng jiān yàn zi wén cháng tàn

How freely the mournful zither plays
By the deep water, cherry blossoms and willows spread.
To the East, my lady neighbor has never wed,
Middle age is here, spring has fled.
Princess Liyang 1 was just fourteen years old,
After All Souls 2 , on warm days, she made men amorous and bold.
Back home, the lady tosses and turns as the night flies by,
Only sparrows in the rafters hear sigh upon sigh.

***

About the Calligraphy
何处哀筝随急管How freely the mournful zither plays (2 rows, 14 characters, Curisve Cao Script): M.O. Ndesandjo

Notes:
1.  According to myth, Princess Liang was a young beauty promised by her father to an invading warlord. Peace ensued, but her husband, a brutal leader, died two years later. As tribute, parts of his body were delivered to the warring kingdoms.

2.  The Pure Brightness Holiday (清明节) is a time to commemorate one’s ancestors and is typically in early April. After the festival, the temperature often rises, along with rainfall and much plowing and sowing. It is thus a time of sadness as well as happiness.

Featured image Credit

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