An Elegy (to the Tune of “Wet is my blue robe”)
Nalan Xingde (1655-85)
Of late, too many heart-hurts befall, and yet
Who could be there for a chat during long nights.
I am with your concerned final words,
Green light is reflected on the windows and candle tears are red;
Outside, orioles and wild geese are testing their eager songs.
The taste of love I began to know and enjoy
Was cut short, and no love
Can afford for a love that long that much.
In a trance, I seem to see your unannounced apparition,
In the shaking light of burning lacquer before your coffin.
All I can do is look up to count the spring stars, obsessed.
青blue衫clothing/ tunic/ robe湿wet
近来lately 无no限limit 伤hurt心heart 事matter/things
谁who 与with/together 话talk 长long 更measure of time
(one 更 is two hours during night, the last 更 being the fifth before daybreak)
从since/according to 教let/ instruct 分付concerned instructions (variants from the normal 吩咐)
绿green 窗window 红red 泪tears
早early 雁wild goose 初young 莺oriole
当at时(that) time 领understand 略taste/ know
自self 尽finish 断break 送send
总always 负fail 多much 情emotion
忽suddenly 疑suspect 君you 到come
漆lacquer 灯lamp 风wind 飐shake/ shiver
痴obsessed 数count 春spring 星stars
纳兰性德 nalanxingde 1655-1685
About the author:
Nalan Xingde, courtesy name Rongruo, was born on January 19, 1655 into a Manchu official family, and he at 20 married a girl of 18 from Lu family who unfortunately died three years after and left him in deep grief ever since. Nalan himself died, half of his weak health from childhood and half of grief, in 1685 at the age of 31. His collection of Ci-poems (lyrics) entitled Drinking Water became an everlasting classic. While he was hailed as the No.1 lyricist in Qing Dynasty, his poems were mostly about his private sentiments and grievances. This is an elegy for the poet’s wife, perhaps written shortly after her death when her coffin was still in a monastery, as there were still lacquer-burning lamps (mourning lamps by the coffin to be interred).