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“Gold-threaded Gown” – a Tang Dynasty poem by Du Qiuniang

January 23, 2013

Below I have translated a Tang Dynasty poem in Classical Chinese, supposedly by a famed courtesan Du Qiuniang, that is included in the Three Hundred Tang Poems. According to Wikipedia in Chinese, the poet Du Mu met Du Qiuniang in her old age and wrote a poem called “The Song of Du Qiuniang.” The preface includes the poem I have translated below, which later readers have interpreted as the work of Du Qiuniang herself.

“Gold-threaded Gown”

Du Qiuniang





[First pass]

I entreat you, do not covet that gold-threaded gown,

I entreat you to covet the time of your youth.

Flowers bloom and then are to be plucked,

Do not wait to pluck at a flowerless branch.

[Second pass]

My dear, covet not that gold-threaded gown,

But hold fast to the days of your youth.

Flowers that bloom are ripe for the taking,

Pluck not at a flowerless branch.

NB: There is a much better English translation by Andrew W.F. Wong available on his blog Classical Chinese Poems in English.

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