Li Qingzhao

Li Qingzhao (1084-1151) is considered the greatest female poet in Chinese history, though only one English translation of her complete works remains in print today. During her lifetime, she defied cultural expectations for women by writing and persevering through war, exile, imprisonment, and the loss of her fortune. She is renowned particularly for her ci, which are poems set to music with predetermined meters and tones. During the Southern Song Dynasty, her ci were gathered into a collection titled Rinsing over Jade that has since been lost.

The Approach of Happiness by Li Qingzhao, translated by Wendy Chen

    The wind has stopped, the fallen flowers fallen deeply. Outside the window, their red petals, heaped like snow, the memory, after-blooming, of crab-apples—a time when spring is wounded. The wine is spent, the song finished. The jade pitcher empty. The bronze lamp flickers and dims. I cannot bear […]