Poems of Xue Tao
Sending Words ('Cause I Be Trippin')
In the dark and mists of Magic Mushroom Tower,
rosy light, far as I can see, Jade Emperor's palace.
Purple sun in the heavens, I'm an exiled immortal
and mortals will say I've created the world.
The character 芝 is China's hallucenogenic mushroom. Karlgren, the Swedish sinologist, called it "divine and relicitous." He probably said that in Swedish. But relicitous is not a word. So it's best not to describe a trip until you are all the way back home. The first two lines of this poem are actually:
fungus pavillion, magic mushroom tower, in the middle of far and deepYou could do the "Dawn's rosy fingers on the winedark sea" thing with line two. But that kind of ignores line one. And it also ignores her omnipotent feelings in line four. "Strawberry fields forever" comes to mind.
rosy light opens, depths I see, Jade Emperor's palace
So Xue Tao be trippin'. And then she has to decide what to call this poem. But she's in a hurry, just like Karlgren, and calls it "Sending Words" because Wei Gao is off fighting rebels and she wanted to send it to him. Or it seems like she did. But then she popped the mushroom. Whoa. Some days later, Wei Gao gets a letter from home. Be nice to know his reaction. Amusement. Tolerance. Jealousy (one can't do serious drugs and win battles). One could say the title indicates this poem is a response to another poem. Did Wei Gao, or someone else, send her a poem under the influence? Or did the mushroom move her to respond while the rosy light remained? So many questions. So few hints.
Am I seriously saying that Xue Tao did drugs? Well, I am taking the evidence of the poem itself. And, on balance, I'd say she certainly seems to be tripping. China is some 3200 years old as she writes this. It didn't take Americans 3200 years to figure out how to botanically hallucinate. So, until shot down by further scholarly efforts, we can leave the balance tipped towards the side of "Yes, Xue Tao did magic mushrooms." So she did have sex, she did do drugs, and if we can just catch her jamming on the pipa, we'll have her down for rock'n'roll as well. There is nothing new under the purple sun.
PS. Did Karlgren really say "relicitous?" Probably not. But this translator's error or copyist's typo is certainly persistent if he didn't say it. So we will continue to make fun of him until some competent person sets this matter straight.