Feng Yansi Poems with English Translations: Tune: Paying Homage at the Golden Gate – 冯延巳《谒金门·风乍起》

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Tune: Paying Homage at the Golden Gate

Feng Yansi

The breeze begins to blow

And it ruffles a pool of spring water below.

Crushing pink apricot petals in hand, I play

With a pair of lovebirds on the fragrant pathway.

Seeing ducks fight, alone on the railings I lean,

Slanting upon my head a hairpin of jade green.

Waiting for you the whole day long wears out my eyes,

Raising my head, I’m glad to hear magpies.

Feng Yansi (903—960) was prime minister in the court of the second ruler of the Late Tang Dynasty (937—975). His lyrics show the subtle refinement of a courtier. In this well-known lyric he paints a leisure-class lady who has nothing to do all day long, whose mind is like a pool ruffled by a sudden breeze while waiting for her husband, and who is glad to hear the magpies chatter, which is supposed to announce the expected arrival.


“Tune: Paying Homage at the Golden Gate” is a work by Feng Yansi, a lyricist of the Southern Tang Dynasty during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. The upper part of the poem is mainly about the scenery and the season, the environment and the activities of the characters; the lower part is mainly about lyricism and the reason for the worries. The entire lyric uses detailed, euphemistic, yet concise and vivid descriptions to graphically represent the boredom of a young noblewoman who misses her husband on a spring day, reflecting her bitter mood.

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