Li Qingzhao was an 11th century Chinese poet. She was considered a master of wanyue pai, “the delicate restraint”. Although only about 100 of her poems survive, she is still widely regarded as the premiere female poet of China.
A Friend Sends Her Perfumed Carriage
A friend sends her perfumed carriage
And high-bred horses to fetch me.
I decline the invitation of
My old poetry and wine companion.
I remember the happy days in the lost capital.
We took our ease in the woman’s quarters.
The Feast of Lanterns was elaborately celebrated –
Folded pendants, emerald hairpins, brocaded girdles,
New sashes – we competed
To see who was most smartly dressed.
Now I am withering away,
Wind-blown hair, frost temples.
I prefer to stay beyond the curtains,
And listen to talk and laughter
I can no longer share.