Translation of Li Qingzhao Poem “A Southern Song for the Dead”

Li Qingzhao was a poet in the time of China's Song Dynasty. She was born in 1084 in Shandong, China and died in 1155. Born from two poet parents, her path in life was decided from the beginning. Li met and married her husband Zhao Mingcheng, also a poet, and together developed a far more mature and eloquent writing style.

However, war soon broke out causing the couple to flee. Their home burned down and many family members killed, they ran south. Then one day, on his way to a military post, Zhao fell ill and died. This poem was one of the poems written by the grief-stricken Li after the passing of her husband.

Li Qingzhao: A Southern Song for the Dead

李清照: 南歌子  悼亡

(Original Chinese)











(English Translation)

The milky way flows in the heavens

A dark shroud hangs over the world

The coolness of autumn brings tears soaking my pillow and mat

I get out of bed and untie my night robe and reckon

The deep night must soon turn to morning

On the robe, small lotus seed pods are sewn on with green thread

Lotus leaves sparsely sewn on with gold thread

The weather of the old days, the clothes of the old days

Only these feelings aren’t the same

In the time of our old home

Translated with guidance from Baidu Baike.

My name is Casey Nepivoda, and I am a senior journalism and media production student working as the Managing Editor of TwoTwoOne's editorial section as well as the editor for the Translation category. During my previous work as a Mandarin-Chinese language analyst, I discovered just how important every word we choose is, how what we say reveals who we are, and how language spoken and unspoken brings us together.

Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff