Poems of Yu Xuanji
Winter Night, for Wen Feiqing (Wen Tingyun)
Searching this poem for deep feelings. Chanting under my lamp.
Not sleeping all night. Too cold beneath the blankets.
Courtyard full of fallen leaves. Anxious wind arises.
Liquid essence of the moon pours gently through the curtains.
Relaxed, but not idle. In the end, heart's desire fulfilled.
Rising and falling, emptiness reveals my original mind.
Living in seclusion, I can't tell where the parasol trees grow.
But at dusk, chirping of sparrows fills my empty grove.
I would say this was written towards the end of Yu Xuanji's life. She already knows Wen Tingyun because, here, she respectfully uses his courtesy name after his family name. Wen Tingyun was a very popular and novel poet in Chang'an in these times and twenty years Yu's senior. We know nothing about them. But we can say what is probable or at least possible:
As a fine poet, Wen would eventually have heard of Yu's artistry, as she was known to the court and in society. We know this from her sending a poem to a Chief Minister. He might very well have opened their acquaintance by sending her a poem, to which she would have responded with an answer-poem. And so, possibly never meeting, they would have become friends through poems. As for never meeting, Tolstoy's wife taught Dostoevsky's wife how to publish books. But the two writers took care never to meet each other. Celebrities meet for mutual glamour. Artists often keep to themselves. Yu certainly might.
The first verse is a description of her mind settling into the second verse. The second verse begins with a couplet describing Daoist Sitting-Forgetting. I do not know the significance of parasol or paulownia trees. But the empty woods would be Yu Xuanji's mind.