A beautiful woman, unfurls the pearly curtain
Quietly sitting, how troubled her brow
I see the tears now, glistening on her cheeks
Still I don’t know who she hates.
Love and Hate
Love, it is said, is the strongest emotion. But hate must be a close second.
Li Bai sees a beautiful woman with tear stained cheeks, but not the bitter hate she feels. A beautiful woman unfurls a pearly curtain but not her feelings. It is a great prompt for a story.
Who does she bitterly hate? Will she get revenge?
Notes on Translation
Yuàn Qíng, the title is a bit tricky in English. Grudge, if you are looking for one word, Bitter love is more popular choice, literally, one comes up with blame the passion, which doesn’t quite fit.
Měirén, a beautiful woman. Line 2, é méi moth eyebrow, a euphemism for a beauty, which originates in the shape of the eybrows which resemble those of a moth. Last line, Bùzhī, unknown, xīn hèn shuí, who she hates, or, what she feels in her heart.
Pinyin and Chinese Characters
měirén juàn zhū lián
shēn zuò pín é méi
dàn jiàn lèi hén shī
búzhī xīn hèn shuí
Five character quatrain: the language is simple and plain, the mood is lingering and desolate, implicit and profound, and the words are short and the meaning is long. We should pay attention to these when we understand Li Bai’s poems, which are “implicit with ancient meaning” and “direct legacy of national style”. The ancient “beauty” is not an ordinary word, which is very different from the modern oral fashionable “beauty”. “Vanilla Beauty” in Li Sao refers to a wise minister and a wise gentleman; The beauty in the Book of Songs refers to a young woman who is both beautiful and virtuous. The “beauty rolling bead curtain” refers to the boudoir women with beautiful character and appearance. The “implication” in Li Bai’s poetry refers to the euphemism of the main character’s sentiment in the poetry, not to the repose of the poem, so it is said to be “a direct legacy of national style”.
This little poem describes a beauty’s deep sorrow and hatred. It does not directly describe her sorrow, but only depicts her beauty’s manner: sitting alone with frown and tears all over her face, showing her deep sorrow and hatred in her heart.
“Sit deep and frown”, “deep” means multi-layer. “The courtyard is deep, willows stack smoke, and the curtain is not heavy.” (Ouyang Xiu’s Butterfly Loves Flowers) The boudoir where the woman lives is in the deep courtyard with “no multiple curtains”. It is very quiet and lonely. This is the first floor; “Deep” also means deep feelings. The so-called “beauty rolling bead curtain” means that the ancients always wanted to look far and high when missing their relatives, which was the practice of men. Women “kept in purdah” and could not be seen in public, so they had to “roll bead curtain” to look at the direction of leaving to express their feelings of missing and look forward to leaving. This is the second layer; The third meaning of “deep” is “long”, which means sitting for a long time. To frown means to wrinkle. Xi Shi in the Wu Palace “frowned” more beautiful and pitiful than usual, so she imitated Dong Shi. “Frowning” shows the beauty of “beauty”.
“But the tears are wet”, because the yearning is too deep, the feeling is too deep, so I unconsciously shed tears of acacia. The word “wet” means to weep secretly and uncontrollably. The “frowning” related to the second sentence is more serious than the “only frowning, but also on the heart” complaint.
“I don’t know who I hate”. It’s clearly missing and loving someone, but I just use “hate”. The heroine complains from the bottom of her heart that she has been away from home for too long, which makes her suffer loneliness alone in this deep courtyard, but she still doesn’t come back after leaving. But this kind of hate is actually a kind of love. Love a person, always hate each other can not accompany. The first three sentences of the poem use Fu, and the end uses questions to summarize “grievances”. The fu here is a dynamic process, first “rolling bead curtain”, then “deep sitting”, then “frowning”, finally “wet tears”. The action is visible and the attitude is compelling.
The last two sentences of this poem have always been praised by people. Obviously, it is missing and loving someone, but it uses a “hate”. The so-called hate is the extreme of love. It’s clear that the object of yearning is ready to come out, but I don’t know who I hate. These two sentences can be interpreted from two perspectives. The first perspective is the beauty’s perspective. Does the beauty hate who? Does she hate the beautiful spring scenery, which seduces her inner thoughts, or does she hate her lover for not coming back and leaving her alone? The hatred is vague, but the hatred inside the beauty is clear. The second perspective is the poet’s perspective. The poet is an onlooker. He sees a beautiful woman with tears on her face, sees her hatred, but does not know who she hates, and dare not venture to ask.
Li Bai’s poem is about an artistic conception, the yearning of a lonely woman. In such an ordinary scene, the author captures several points, and draws a simple picture from these points, while leaving infinite reverie. A casual little detail can reveal the whole theme, which shows the poet’s insight. The whole poem is sad and sad. ▲