The Wandering Songstress

Is there such a thing as Chinese fidelity?

A Shanghai gramophone voice tells me

a young girl to her man is like thread to its needle.

We could be sewn into fidelity together

bound by thread and dynasties.


A woman with a golden throat reminds us that

only love that lasts through hard times is true

but the moon represents my heart

these days, with its constant waning.


If I were to search like a wandering songstress

from the end of the earth to the farthest sea

to find you, my beautiful man,

we’d be ancient as terracotta.

In life, who does not cherish the springtime of youth?


The lotus blossoms of my feet are ripe for plucking,

flowers bloom under the bright moon.

My face is like a lantern reflected on the lake

fading slowly with the night.


A young girl to herself is faithful as a shadow

waxing with the dark and absent

The title of this poem and the italicised phrases are translated from the Chinese folk song Tian Ya Ge Nu.

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