Poems of Yu Xuanji
For Minister Liu
Eight garrisons of mighty soldiers
Sing folksongs as they fill the new roads.
In March, Fen River swells with rain, its
Waters advancing past fields of spring's blossoms.
A prison that locks out the vast sky,
Weapons of war long churn the dust.
Scholars, monks, all gape at midnight
As visitors arrive to get drunk on red cushions.
Ink and inkstone effortlessly follow the hand
And our lives are bound up in the classics.
Many small villages watch and hope
For the proper lives of simple men.
This poem reminds me of Li Ye's poem for Minister Cui. It seems like a poem in responce for requested advice. Throughout Yu's adult life, wars and rebellions were constant. And this is a letter to a higher-ranking minister than Cui, possibly Liu Zhan who was a Chief Minister from 869-870. If this is the case, Yu Xuanji must have been very highly regarded in the capital and would have written this no earlier than 869 when she was 25. I note that she refrains from Daoist arguments and relies on human realities and the Confucian ideals of the court. She is wise for her years. Although, what a minister could do with this advice, under possibly the worst emperor of the Tang, is beyond me.