Li Shang Yin's Parting

相見時難去亦難,      Seeing him is difficult and parting from him is even more so.

東風無力百花殘.      The east wind is languishing and a hundred blooms are fading.

春蠶到死絲方盡,      The spring silk worm dies when its threads are at their end.

爉炬成灰淚始乾.      Just when her tears are dried, the candle had turned to ashes.

曉鏡但愁雲鬢改,      Sorrow, she sees in the mirror as her morning coiffure is made.

夜吟應覺月光寒.      At nights she sighs, feeling the cold of the moon.

此去蓬萊<sup>1</sup>無多路,  Not many roads go from here to paradise<sup>1</sup>,

青鳥<sup>2</sup>殷勤為探看.  Eagerly she awaited word from the overworked blue birds<sup>2</sup>.




1.      Penglai, The Blessed Isles of theEasternOceanwhere immortals live.


2.      An allusion to a love affair between Emperor Han Wu Ti (漢武帝) and the Goddess of Western Paradise (西王母) where she used blue birds to send love letters to the Emperor.




Her lover must have left in spring.  It is now way past the season as the east wind is losing its grip and flowers no longer in their best.  Like the fading flowers, she is afraid that her beauty will be gone if he does not hurry back.  The silk worms had already spun their cocoons and are now ready to be harvested. (Cocoons are placed in hot water to kill the worms before they are transformed and eat out of the cocoons.  The hot water also softens the casings so that they can be unraveled continuously.)


Time now is autumn as the moon is at its brightest and the weather grows cold.  Alone each night, she cries till morning.  Her sorrow did not depart as she puts on a new face, hoping that her lover will soon arrive later in the day.  When he does not show up, again she mopes in sighs, perhaps reading some poetry or even sings a song or two with moonlight as her companion.  Wherever he is, he is her paradise.  Though there are not many roads in reaching him, she wonders why the news of his home coming is so slow.



Jun 4, 2012 6:23 PM
Comments · 2

Great peom. I love it very much. However, I do not fully understand this poem. It is very very ambiguous.



June 5, 2012
June 4, 2012
Language Skills
Chinese (Mandarin), Chinese (Cantonese), Chinese (Other), English
Learning Language
Chinese (Mandarin), Chinese (Cantonese), Chinese (Other)