Poems of Xue Tao
Thanking Officer Xin for the Branch He Left Behind
Bluebird flies east and alights in the plum tree.
I cherish this branch beneath the jade pavilion.
A branch that shows me the deep devotion you feel.
Holding it in the breeze, soon all the buds will open.
I think Xue Tao and Officer Xin like each other. Usually, it would be Xue Tao who would "break off a branch" (折花) from a willow to say "I wish you would stay." In this case, she found Xin had left her a branch that said he wished he could stay. And Xue Tao writes him a poem to say thank you. But it seems much more of a real and personal thankyou note than all the other more official ones. The bluebird is the messenger of the Queen Mother in the West. The "jade pavilion" is the home of immortals. The whole poem seems full of genuine feelings that are reaching to be felt. She didn't have to send a thankyou for a stick if she didn't want to. And she didn't have to end it with a line expressing expectation of fulfilled happiness. She doesn't usually encourage men like that. I hope everything worked out for them both.
I've been thinking about this poem. Bluebird leads to Queen Mother of the West. QMoW leads to peaches of immortality. Jade -- actually, jasper -- pavillion leads to more immortals, who all got to eat a peach. Which leads to the Allman Brother's album from 1972. All of which scotches the willow symbolism. I have no idea what peach (桃 tao2) meant to lovers, maybe "escape and run away with me" from (逃 tao2). Peaches are suggestive of certain things, however.