Poems of Xue Tao
Distant Gift, in two verses
Hibiscus newly wilted in Sichuan's autumn hills.
These embroidered words reveal my hidden sadness.
Women may know little of the ways of war
But the moon still shines down on this lonely tower.
Because they're weak, the cattails have all been flattened.
Flowers wither at the pass although it's only spring.
I know you cannot return from Qin Gate with your men.
So in the moonlight, by the palace gate, I hide my flowing tears.
A poem from later in Xue Tao's time with Wei Gao perhaps. She may have stayed until his death and the passing of three more commanders. I know she admired the last of them. I doubt she cared much at all about the middle two. They weren't much to care about. But this poem could be about the last of the four. It's almost impossible to date any of her poems beyond "Chengdu courtesan," "Xichuan hostess," and "Daoist nun." Sometimes we can be a little more exact. But not much. The flowers and the moon, tears and war, are a constant. Her poetry is always rooted in her present point of view, which never needs elaboration. When you look through a telescope, it says nothing about itself.