Year: 
2019

Bitter Love

 
Li Bai (701-762)
 
 
The beauty sits behind a jeweled screen,
Lamenting him with lovely, furled brows.
When all I see are cheeks stained wet with tears,
I wonder, where’s the one who broke his vows?
 
 

Chinese
 
怨情
李白
 
美人捲珠簾
深坐蹙蛾眉
但見淚痕濕
不知心恨誰
Pronunciation
 
Yuàn Qíng
Lǐ Bái
 
Měi rén juǎn zhū lián
Shēn zuò cù é méi
Dàn jiàn lèi hén shī
Bù zhī xīn hèn shuí

 
 
Transliteration and Notes
 
Hatred Feeling
 
Beautiful person rolled-up gem curtain
Deep sit lament moth eyebrows
Only see tears trace wet
Not know heart hatred whom?
 
     “Hatred” can also be “blame” or “complain.” “Beautiful person” is a “beauty.” “Lament” is to wrinkle or knit one’s brows. “Moth eyebrows” is figurative for a beautiful woman, but could also be related to her knitting her eyebrows in lament. “Tears trace” are tear stains. “Not know” could either being not knowing or could be figurative for not admitting hardships.
     This poem paints a portrait of a beautiful woman lamenting her love. Although I translated the poem as a woman upset over a man breaking his vows, it does not necessarily mean that: the woman is upset over the absence of the man she loves, but he could be away for any number of reasons, including official duty or service in war.

Author of original: 
Li Bai
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