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Li Qingzhao: My Dream at Dawn -晓梦

























My Dream at Dawn

translated by Julia Min

The sleepy chimes sent me to a dream at dawn.

I paddled along rosy clouds fluttering beyond.

As if arranged I met Anqi of Penglai before long,

and E Luhua, the fairy from ‘South Mount’.

Autumn doesn’t have the taste to appreciate,

the Yujin Lotus blooms being chased and gone.

The lotus seeds we found are long like a boat,

and big as melon are the dates we feast upon.

Then other friends in white robes join the table.

We echoed to and fro with ci, the lyric songs,

in graceful elegance and whimsical eloquence,

over fresh tea made on the pot fire till morn.

A lady can never succeed by the Song throne,

but I have so much joy in the dream beyond,

What more could I ask for after this event?

It’s better than my homeland dream long-drawn.

I got dressed and sat in respect like a new born,

feeling so real as if the dreamland’s where I belong.

Ear shut to the bustling world, I tried to re-enter,

though I knew not possible to meet again beyond.



This is her only poem on dream left today though dream is mentioned in some of her Ci poems. From the line ‘It’s better than my homeland dream long-drawn’, we may conclude the composing year could be in her later life after she fled to the Lin’an (the temporary Court of the Song after the fall of the capital in Bianliang, today’s Kaifeng City.).

The poem articulates a comparison of her dream world where she longs for and a reality

of helpless frustration and anger, aiming to criticize the hopeless Court in their response against the invasion from the north — a similar sensation as Li Bai and Du Fu in a world of turmoil.

This poem also reminds me of W.B. Yeats (1865-1939) who wrote ‘The Second Coming’ where the great Irish poet (Nobel Prize winner) crafted and elaborate over the turmoil of the world, like the above mentioned poets, feeling just helpless in changing it but putting his hope for some miracle to save the world.

With such talented artistic quality, these poets, most common people would say, do not belong here but there beyond.


1. Anqi of Penglai: Penglai Mountain on an island off the East China Sea is the legendary fairyland for the immortals. Gentleman Anqi is a legendary figure appeared in the Qin Dynasty when he was already a thousand year old.

2. E Luhua, the legendary fairy who claimed that she was from ‘South Mount’ which is not known to the world.

3. Yujin Lotus blooms: a legend borrowed from Han Yu’s poem “Ancient Sensation” where he wrote: On the peak of Taihua ( Today’s Mount Hua), the Yujin Lotus blooms are over ten metres in size and the lotus seeds are long like a boat.

4. friends in white robes: a popular image of a learned gentleman in ancient China;

Pinying and Word -For-Word Translation:

xiǎo mèng

xiǎo mèng suí shū zhōng ,

piāo rán niè yún xiá 。

yīn yuán ān qī shēng ,

xiè hòu è lǜ huá 。

qiū fēng zhèng wú lài ,

chuī jìn yù jǐng huā 。

gòng kàn ǒu rú chuán ,

tóng shí zǎo rú guā 。

piān piān zuò shàng kè ,

yì miào yǔ yì jiā 。

cháo cí dòu guǐ biàn ,

huó huǒ fèn xīn chá 。

suī fēi zhù dì gōng ,

qí lè mò kě yá 。

rén shēng néng rú cǐ ,

hé bì guī gù jiā 。

qǐ lái liǎn yī zuò ,

yǎn ěr yàn xuān huá 。

xīn zhī bú kě jiàn ,

niàn niàn yóu zī jiē 。

未经允许不得转载:STUDY IN CHINA GLOBAL (SCG) » Li Qingzhao: My Dream at Dawn
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