李清照/Li QingZhao, the very talented Song dynasty poetess; Mum’s favourite classical poetess and her ideal heroine.
English wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Li_Qingzhao
Chinese baidu: http://baike.baidu.com/view/3066.htm
For Mum, Li QingZhao was the historical role model all modern women can look to, especially during the fiery women’s Lib movement of the 60s and 70s which Mum was a part of. The emancipation that comes from an education, the freedom to choose and love; all these were not just issues facing modern Asian women, Mum used to argue, Li QingZhao in 11th century Song dynasty China faced down all these challenges and was already a prime example of liberation and triumph over conventions.
Mum used to wax lyrical about 李清照/Li QingZhao’s poems, and especially how the love between Li QingZhao and her husband, as well as their shared love for literature and their precious collection of etchings of ancient epigraphs, was the kind of love and relationship she dreamed of as a young girl.
Many of Li QingZhao’s lines and verses have entered into common Chinese language and usage, especially of words describing the sorrow and melancholy of her partings from her husband, and of the grief and loss of her early widowhood and the vicissitudes of war.
[And I will always remember Mum’s lesson on Alliteration, using Li QingZhao’s magnificent treatise to Melancholy, the slow numbing repeating 声声慢/Sound sound slow.]
And here is one of Li QingZhao’s more famous poem, on the full moon theme, the sad and sorrowful 月满西楼/Full moon over the west chamber, sung to a modern tune:
月满西楼/Full moon over the west chamber:
(To the tune of ) 《A stalk of plum blossoms》
Scent of the red lotus wilting, jade-green mat feeling autumn chill,
I slowly loosen my silk robe, and boarded the (ornamental) boat alone.
Who is it that sends a (precious) brocaded letter from across the clouds?
Wild geese returning (flying in their 字 formation, bearing news), the full moon fills the west chamber.
Flowers are blown and wilt away, the waters flow and continue along its course,
One same love and yearning, brooding and lamenting in two places (hearts).
This sorrow has no means to be eased,
Just at the moment it seems to be lightening from my brow (easing), it is weighing upon my heart.
(Another bad translation by dustysojourner)
Here is a youku video of the same poem-song, with images of Li QingZhao-inspired paintings which portray the poetess’ melancholic dignity even more poignantly:
This flash video is a must-watch. The creator lovingly painted his/her impression of Li QingZhao’s poem above, and set it to the same song but sung by a different singer. Very well done. Exquisite.