Listening to the Zither
Li Duan (743 – 782?)
She plucks the zither, wood engrained in gold,
With silky hands beside a room of jade;
To make the gentleman there notice her
He sees at times her brushing hand has strayed.
|鳴箏金粟柱||Míng zhēng jīn sù zhù|
|素手玉房前||Sù shǒu yù fáng qián|
|欲得周郎顧||Yù dé zhōu láng gù|
|時時誤拂絃||Shí shí wù fú xián|
Transliteration and Notes
Shrieks zither gold grain pillar
Silk hand jade room by
Desire have Zhou gentleman notice
Often times err brush string
This poem tells the humorous tale of a beautiful woman playing the zither (“silk hands” means fair or delicate hands in this context, symbolizing beauty). She notices a gentleman from Zhou, probably the author, and tries to get his attention by occasionally plucking the wrong note.