The Jewel Stairs’ Grievance

By Li Po 701–762 Li Po

Translated By Ezra Pound

The jewelled steps are already quite white with dew,
It is so late that the dew soaks my gauze stockings,
And I let down the crystal curtain
And watch the moon through the clear autumn.

NOTES: Jewel stairs, therefore a palace. Grievance, therefore there is something to complain of. Gauze stockings, therefore a court lady, not a servant who complains. Clear autumn, therefore he has no excuse on account of weather. Also she has come early, for the dew has not merely whitened the stairs, but has soaked her stockings. The poem is especially prized because she utters no direct reproach.

Source: Personae (1990)

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Poet Li Po 701–762

POET’S REGION China

Subjects Men & Women, Love, Disappointment & Failure, Living, Relationships, Unrequited Love, Break-ups & Vexed Love

Biography

A Chinese poet of the Tang Dynasty, Li Po (also known as Li Bai, Li Pai, Li T’ai-po, and Li T’ai-pai) was probably born in central Asia and grew up in Sichuan Province. He left home in 725 to wander through the Yangtze River Valley and write poetry. In 742 he was appointed to the Hanlin Academy by Emperor Xuanzong, though he was eventually expelled from court. He then served the Prince of Yun, who led a revolt after the An . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Men & Women, Love, Disappointment & Failure, Living, Relationships, Unrequited Love, Break-ups & Vexed Love

POET’S REGION China

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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