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Li Qingzhao: Spring Wavers this Cold Food Festival -浣溪沙·淡荡春光寒食天

All Spring Wavers this Cold Food Festival
– to the tune of Huanxisha

Translated by Gordon Osing and Julia Min

All Spring wavers this Cold Food Festival.

Over the jade censer the last smoke up curls.

I startled from a rosy day dream,

from a pillow hiding flowered jewels.

No swallow returns, so I dou-cao with girls.

No sight of plum blooms, only willow cattails.

By evening I find my swing in the wind

hangs wet and empty in a dull drizzle.


This remarkable ci appears to present the poet’s consciousness of the moments in which her girlhood was ending and womanhood beginning. One notes her sense of urgency in this ci, her passion for getting everything out of life. She is in her latest teens or early twenties here, in girlhood dreaming, with a woman’s jewelled earrings out of sight behind the ceramic pillow.


1. Cold Food Festival: two days before Qing Ming Festival (April 5th in the Western calendar); Cold Food Festival is also called the Festival of Forbidden Fires, and commemorates an episode in Chinese history. It seems Emperor Wen Gong burned the entire mountain to flush out his general Zi-tui, who had chosen to die there rather than be an afterthought in the emperor’s reward after a victorious battle. Remembering honor is the original sense of the festival.

2. jade censer: Not necessarily jade, of course; They were also of metal and other stones. Jade, as is so often the case, denotes wonderful or harmonizing associations.

3. pillow: hill-pillow, the ceramic, concave headrest ancient Chinese people slept on;

4. swallow: Chinese ancients believed swallows came from the sea.

5. dou-cao: a card game played especially in the Spring by young ladies and older girls;

6. plum blooms: a wild river-plum tree referred here;

The Source Text in Chinese:









Pinying and Word -For-Word Translation:

huàn xī shā – the musical tune
dàn dàng chūn guāng hán shí tiān – swaying spring the Fire Forbidden Festival,

yù lú chén shuǐ niǎo cán yān – jade burner incense curling upward last smoke.

mèng huí shān zhěn yǐn huā diàn – dream wake up hill pillow hide flowered jewelry.

hǎi yàn wèi lái rén dòu cǎo – sea swallows not yet come/return people Doucao Game,

jiāng méi yǐ guò liǔ shēng mián – river plums (season) have passed willows grow catkin.

huáng hūn shū yǔ shī qiū qiān – by dusk sparse rain wet the swing.

未经允许不得转载:STUDY IN CHINA GLOBAL (SCG) » Li Qingzhao: Spring Wavers this Cold Food Festival
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