Prelude to a Thousand Autumns
Heard at the hostel, washerwomen’s sigh
And painted horn on lonely tower high,
There autumnal songs rise and melt in boundless sky.
Returning swallows fly toward the eastern seas;
Upon the beach alight the south-going wild geese.
The king’s refreshing breeze,
The poet’s moonlit tower, each appears
The same as those in bygone years.
Why should I be enthralled by wealth and fame?
Why should I be delayed by quenchless flame?
How I regret I have neglected love of beauty!
I deemed it then to build a monument my duty;
How can I fulfil now
O my miscarried vow!
A wake from wine and dreams,
My thoughts would flow in streams.
The poet was prime minister who tried to make political reform from 1069 to 1085 but failed. This lyric is written probably after his failure in the reform.
“Prelude to a Thousand Autumns” is a lyric written by Wang Anshi, a writer of the Northern Song Dynasty. This lyric expresses the author’s complex and contradictory inner world in a light and sinful language. The first section is about the scenery and the second section is about the emotion. The first section highlights the autumnal colors of Jinling and introduces the next section with the swallows coming and the geese going, the wind filling the moonlit building, the ancient city and a thousand thoughts. The next section expresses two meanings, i.e. to express one’s personal feelings by being in an official position. The lyrics are very clear and clear, and the words are near and far, but ethereal and beautiful.