Mourning (Kuan P’an-p’an [8th-9th centuries])

In the cemetery on North Hill
Heavy mist envelopes pines and cypresses.
In Swallow Mansion
I sit quietly thinking of you.
Since you were buried
Your singers are scattered like dust.
And the perfume in their red sleeves
Has faded away for ten years now.


[Footnote: This lady had been a famous
courtesan to celebrated statesman Chang
Chien, who built Swallow Mansion for her;
a “sumptuous palace” with many enter-
tainments and notable visitors. After Chang’s
death, a famous poet asked why Kuan hadn’t
chosen to “die with her lord.” She resisted
for belief that committing suicide might blemish
Chang’s reputation. A mere five years after 
writing this poem, however, she committed suicide.]

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