Yin Qiqi (~800)
In times of doubt I sing to spring’s fresh sun
And free the knots tied up within my gut—
Your young man’s left his home and not come back
But winter’s snow will wash the willow’s smut.
Yáng Chūn Qū
Chóu jiàn chàng yáng chūn
Líng rén lí cháng jié
Láng qù wèi guī jiā
Liǔ zì piāo xiāng xuě
Transliteration and Notes
Sun Spring Song
Anxiety see sing sun spring
Makes people leave gut knots
Young-man left not yet returned home
Willow-tree self floating fragrance snow
“Sun” is the same “yang” as in “yin-yang” and symbolizes male energy. “Spring” symbolizes youth. “Makes men” together is when something causes someone to feel an emotion. “Gut knots” means emotional distress, as in someone’s “stomach is in knots.” “Willow-tree” symbolizes pleasure. “Floating fragrance” means something wafts around. “Snow” can symbolize wiping away shame. This poem is spoken to someone worrying that their young man has left the responsibilities of home for pleasure, but says he’ll mature and redeem himself.
Yin Qiqi was a Daoist priest and poet in the Tang Dynasty during the reign of Emperor Dezong. His name may have originally been Yin Qizi (“Yin Seventh Child”), but he called himself Qiqi as in “7-7” and did not know his age. The poet wandered frequently, enjoyed getting drunk, and was famous for his magic, alchemy, and medicine.