Rumeng ling, No. 1: As if a reverie
Often remember a pavilion by the stream at dusk, when
delirious with wine, we lost our route.
High spirits waned as our boat turned late
through a dense patch of fragrant lotus.
Oaring and oaring through, rowing,
we startled a flock of shore birds.
Rumeng ling, No. 2: As if a reverie
Last night, a strong wind drove sparse rain;
deep slumber failed to thin the wine.
At daybreak, I queried the screen-rolling servant,
who replied: Why, the crabapple tree is as always.
Don’t you see, don’t you see?
How the foliage is robust green
yet floral redness, thin frailty.
Karen An-hwei Lee renders the work of the Song dynasty poet and writer Li Qingzhao with a startling clarity. The words of China’s most famous female poet are read with a remarkable beauty and sharpness. This is the adept hand of a translator who both admires the work of her subject and is herself possessed of a singular awareness of the nuances of both languages. The work of Li Qingzhao sings anew in Lee’s translation.
—Afaa M. Weaver 尉雅風
Li Qingzhao is probably the most important woman poet in Chinese literary history. Her stature is indisputable, and she deserves ample praise and recognition and to be in the same high tier as that of the more famous male poets of the Tang and Song dynasties, which includes the likes of Li Bai, Wang Wei and Du Fu. This book of new translations by Karen An-hwei Lee has the clarity, quality, and thoroughness that will help glorify Li Qingzhao’s name. The volume is successful in capturing the beauty, grace, and wit of the original.
— Marilyn Chin