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Du Fu: Beautiful Ladies Travel Outside

Beautiful Ladies Travel Outside


丽 人 行
三 月 三 日 天 气 新
长 安 水 边 多 丽 人。
态 浓 意 远 淑 且 真
肌 理 细 腻 骨 肉 匀。
绣 罗 衣 裳 照 暮 春
蹙 金 孔 雀 银 麒 麟。                                                                                          头 上 何 所 有?
翠 为 (e) 叶 垂 鬓 唇。
背 后 何 所 见?
珠 压 腰 衱 稳 称 身。
就 中 云 幕 椒 房 亲
赐 名 大 国 虢 与 秦。
紫 驼 之 峰 出 翠 釜
水 精 之 盘 行 素 鳞。
犀 箸 厌 饫 久 未 下
鸾 刀 屡 切 空 纷 纷。
黄 门 飞 鞚 不 动 尘
御 厨 络 绎 送 八 珍。
箫 鼓 哀 吟 感 鬼 神
宾 从 杂 遝 实 要
后 来 鞍 马 何 逡 巡
当 轩 下 马 入 锦 茵。
杨 花 雪 落 覆 白 苹
青 鸟 飞 去 衔 红 巾。
炙 手 可 热 势 绝 伦
慎 莫 近 前 丞 相 嗔!
Li Ren Xing

San yue san ri tian qi xin
Chang an shui bian duo li ren.
Tai nong yi yuan shu qie zhen
Ji li xi ni gu rou yun.

Xiu luo yi chang zhao mu chun
Cu jin kong que yin qi lin.                                                                                                      Tou shang he suo you?
Cui wei (e) ye chui bin chun.

Bei hou he suo jian?
Zhu ya yao jie wen chen shen.
Jiu zhong yun mu jiao fang qin
Ci ming da guo guo yu qin.

Zi tuo zhi feng chu cui fu
Shui jing zhi pan xing su lin.
Xi zhu ya yu jiu wei xia
Luan dao lu qie kong ren fen.

Qi men fei kong bu dong chen
Yu chu lao yi song ba zhen.                                                                                                 Xiao gu ai yin gan gui shen
Bin cong za at shi yao jin.

Hou lai an ma he qun xun
Dang xuan xia ma ru jin yin.
Yang hua xue luo fu bai ping
Qing niao fei qu xian hong jin.
Zhi shou ke re shi jue lun
Shen mo jin qian cheng xiang chen!

Beautiful Ladies Travel Outside

Third day, third lunar month weather fresh and new
Outside Chang’an riverbanks with many pretty women.
Appearances of make-up, elegance and real grace
Skin texture moist and fine, bones and flesh proportional.
Embroidered silk tops and skirts shine in the sunsets of spring
Embroidered golden peacocks and silver thread unicorns.

What are they wearing in their hair?
Emerald jade garlands and leaves hang down from temple edges.
From the rear what can one see?
Pearl-studded waists, front and back a snug fit.
These ladies come from the emperor’s chosen, like a sunset in the
middle of clouds
Emperor bestowed names of nobility to the relatives of Yang Guifei.

They eat purple camel meat from jade cauldrons
Rows of translucent plates full of fresh white fish.
Rhino horn chopsticks for a long time bored with these culinary extravagances
One after another, cut meats and vegetables arrive to people not hungry.
Eunuchs riding and bringing food from the palace with no flying dust
From the imperial kitchens more and more treasured dishes are sent.

Flutes and drums play with melancholy that affects the ghosts and spirits
Workers milling about could use something to eat.
Afterwards a group of riders appear
A curtained carriage enters the outdoor canopy.
Yang Guifei’s relatives and their retinues swarm in like falling snow
Blue birds fly away with a red piece of cloth in their mouths.
Extreme arrogance of the powerful will cause broken human relationships
Be careful, do not get to close to those shamefully connected to the prime minister.



Chang’an: (Xi’an) Literally means a “long peace”.  One of the ancient capitals during Du Fu’s lifetime.

Yang GuifeiTang Dynasty Emperor Xuanzong’s favorite concubine, most beautiful, and sited as a major cause of the empire’s collapse in 756.

Eunuchs: In ancient China they were most often young boys sold into slavery and then castrated. They were educated and raised to serve the emperor as guardians of the royal harem and as political operatives.

Blue birds fly away: Many of Yang Guifei’s relatives were palace insiders and holding important government positions.

Please note:  The Chinese character (“e” ) was not found inside the Microsoft character software.  A substitute could be “huahuan”   花环. It means a flowered hair ornament for women.




Very good description of what it must have been like to be inside the inner palace compounds.

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