Poems of Yu Xuanji
On Playing Ball
Hard, round, clean, smooth, like a meteor.
Mooncanes hit and struggle without a pause for thought.
Never stagnant, blocking, moving, always to and fro
And covering the scoring place to keep the goals away.
Don't shrink from being graceful; its the most convenient thing.
But fear that, altogether, you will not reach the end.
In the end, you go inside, back where you began.
Now willing to struggle harder for a most important end.
I would guess that this takes place in her convent, between 863 and 868, where there are enough people around to get up two teams of women. I don't think the second quatrain is full of Daoist symbolism. It seems more spontaneous, as if all things in Yu's thought turn to higher ends. It is this which seems to raise her love for her ex-husband into a kind of higher sphere as well. That which is genuine in it, being uplifted, endures.