A Song of Young Girls from Lo-Yang

Wang Wei
699 – 759


There are girls from Lo-yang in that door across the street,
Some of them fifteen and some a little older.
While their master rides a rapid horse with jade bit and bridle,
Their handmaid brings them codfish on a golden plate.
On the painted pavilions, facing their red towers,
Cornices are pink and green with peach-bloom and with willow;
Canopies of silk awn their seven-scented chairs;
Their lord, with rank and wealth and in the green of life,
Exceeds, for magnificence, even chi-lun;
He favors girls of lowly birth and teaches them to dance,
And he gives away his coral-trees to almost anyone.
The wind of dawn just stirs when his nine soft lights go out,
Those nine soft lights like petals in a flying chain of flowers.
From play to play they have barely time for singing over the songs;
No sooner are they dressed again than incense burns before them.
Those they know in town are only the rich and the lavish,
And day and night they’re visiting the homes of Chao and Li…
Who cares about a girl from Yueh, face jade-white,
Humble, poor, alone, by the river, washing silk!

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