Song of Xizhou (西洲曲)

Reminded of Xizhou by plum blossoms, she snaps a branch off to send to Jiangbei.
Her lightweight clothes were an apricot-red; her hair was black as a crow chick’s feathers.
Where might I find Xizhou proper, today? Row ‘cross the bridgehead in two long oar strokes.
At the sun’s curtain call, the shrikes fly off, and night’s wind blows against the tallow trees.

Right beneath the tree boughs is her door’s fore; past it, her jewelry of jade can be seen.
She opens the door, but no gent is there, so she goes out to pick red lotuses.
They are picked in autumn, on the south bank; their stalks grow to be over peoples’ heads.
She bowed her head to pluck the lotus seeds, which were as green as the water itself.

She stowed the plucked seeds away in her sleeves; the lotus’s heart was red to the core.
Longing for her still-unseen gentleman, she looks up, hoping for a goose in flight.
Geese in flight filled Xizhou’s skies with their wings; she scales her quarters to gaze towards him.
The home’s height is not enough to see him; she leans ‘pon the banister the day long.

The banister’s poles warp and weave in twelves, while her hung hands were as splendrous as jade.
A rolled curtain is the sky, up on high; it rippled vast green, like ocean water.
Ocean water went on, much like this dream. Her gent’s sorrow is her own sorrow, too.
The southern wind knew well what she wanted, carrying her dream to Xizhou for her.

Original Text

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