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

The wind has stopped,
the fallen flowers fallen

Outside the window, their red petals,
heaped like snow,

the memory,
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
such secret bitterness,
or even one more cry
of the shrike.
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.
Wendy Chen was awarded the Most Promising Young Poet Prize by the Academy of American Poets in 2014. Her poems have been published or are forthcoming in Crazyhorse, American Poets, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The McNeese Review, Copper Nickel, and the anthology Translations from World Literature, among others. Currently, she is pursuing an MFA in poetry at Syracuse University.