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The wind that blows September’s leaves
Can open February flowers
Can raise on the river three foot waves
And bend ten thousand bamboo poles

Tang poet, Li Jiao, 645~714


唐, 李峤

Jiě luò sānqiū yè
néng kāi èr yuè huā
guò jiāng sān chǐ làng
rù zhú wàn gān xié
Li Jiao

The Wind

The Wind, a metaphor for the power of the Empress Wu Zetian. Li Jiao served as her chancellor as well as chancellor for her sons, the emperors Zhongzong and Ruizong, and her grandson Emperor Shang.

The Wind has been steadily blowing here in the Midwest for three days, intensely so. The sky is thick with clouds and gray. The trees are still empty of leaves. The branches sway in the wind. So, I thought it appropriate for Li Jiao’s visually descriptive poem, The Wind. Li was a long serving chancellor during the reigns of Wu Zetian, her sons Emperor Zhongzong and Emperor Ruizong.

Notes on Translation

Èr yuè, 二月, line two means February, but implies “Spring” flowers .

Sānchǐ, 三尺, third line, meaning three foot. A unit of measurement and a sword’s length.

Wàn, 万, last line, the symbol for ten thousand, but also meaning a very large number, “all.”

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