Poems of Yu Xuanji
Falling leaves, falling, falling, mixed with evening's rain.
I comfort myself by singing "Red Silk" out loud.
Voicing feelings, easing sadness, my heart still has no friend.
Practicing emptiness drives away the waves of a bitter sea.
Carts of influential men are heard outside my gates.
And Daoist master's scrolls are piled up by my pillow.
Plain scholars, in the end, are exiled into Heaven.
Green rivers and blue mountains -- only transience.
We can put this poem in the last three years of Yu Xuanji's life. I think we can no longer doubt that she values her calling of Daoism more than her earthly successes. And perhaps, at this time, she is turning away from the influential men -- ministers and poets -- at her gates. Perhaps, up until now, she has been happy to receive them. We should remember that this is poetry and what she is calling her gates, which conjures up the vermillion gates of the well-to-do, could simply be the convent gates. And when she has received visiting men, she may have done so in the outer, public rooms of the monastery where all such men would be greeted and spoken with by monks or nuns, abbots or abbesses.