Poems of Yu Xuanji
For Master Ti
The red-pink clouds are sheared like cloth.
A stronger fragrance enters my embroidered curtains.
The leaves and flowers of the hibiscus are opening.
Mountains and rivers make me loosen my robe in hope.
I pause in my steps to hear the oriole sing.
I open the cage to let the crane fly free.
In spring's main hall, I sleep
As evening rain covers all in a pounding mist.
Note: � indicates a character illegible in the original Tang scrolls.
This is certainly a Daoist poem. And it is probably an answer to Master Ti's question, "How are you doing in your practice?" Unless you begin by believing that this was the day she finally let her pet crane out of its massive cage, I think you must agree with me that every line of this poem must be symbolic. Maybe with a big Chinese-Chinese dictionary I could tell you what the symbols are and their significance. But I don't have one of those and my biggest Chinese-English is no help here. Some lines seem simple to grasp in a generally symbolic way. But I imagine that the symbols are specific and am sorry for my ignorance. As for when the poem was written, she is out on her own after studying with Kingdom's Fragrance and Master Ti, so again we have sometime after 866 at the earliest. Our knowing that she will be gone by 872 adds pathos for us in this poem as we consider her new-found hope.