A Wife Longing for Her Husband
The stars are sparse when sinks the moon before daybreak;
The lonely lamplight not yet quenched, she lies awake.
Not dressed up, opening the door with longing eyes,
She complains of the false news announced by magpies.
It was believed in China that magpies would announce happy news, i. e.， the return of the husband.
“Li Duan” is a seven-line poem written by Li Duan, a poet of the Tang Dynasty. The first line of the poem specifies the setting and time, while the second line describes the atmosphere of the interior scenery, highlighting the deep state of mind of the woman in her boudoir who has difficulty sleeping at night. The third and fourth lines portray the woman’s disappointed demeanor after going out to look for her husband, expressing her eagerness to see him return. The whole poem is simple, subtle, timeless and intriguing.