Poems of Yu Xuanji
Taking Care of Things as Spring Ends
Narrow lane, a poor home, few true friends.
Only Li Duan, who comes to me in dreams.
Floating fragrance, gauze sleeves, who is feasting there?
And in what tower did the wind find these singing voices?
Down the street, mounted wardrums, crash my morning's sleep.
Courtyard, idle magpie voices, muddle spring's last thoughts.
Only peace can chase away the rush of worldly things.
Ten thousand miles I float without once seeking shore.
Yu Xuanji calls the poet Li Duan, from the previous century, 阮郎 in the poem she dedicated to him. Here he is again. So perhaps Li Duan was her favorite poet from her early years. Like A Woman's Complaint, this poem could come from before or during her marriage. It could also be that, as this poem hints, she lived for a time outside the monastery in a narrow lane, after completing her training. Or this could all be poetic: the alley, the door, the wishing for friends. A double quatrain of seven-character lines could be an answer-poem for somebody's challenge poem.
So what is the truth here about where Yu Xuanji lived from time to time in her life? The truth is a set of weighted possibilities based on hints from her poems. The heaviest hint is that she left home, lived with her husband, then lived in a monastery, and died there young. But this poem gives a little more weight for her living, after her training, in the city of Chang'an or nearby. Perhaps she lived in the city until she was ill and then returned to the monastery. But all of the possibilities remain, each with their hinted weights.