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“Ershisi fan huaxinfeng” 二十四番花信風 by Dong Gao 董誥 pt. 5

Picture credit: National Palace Museum, Taipei






Pearly dews join each other to make a white jade ball,

At the pond of Peng[lai],[2] spring in full swing: what a vision of immortal companions.

Elegant figures clustering together, the host of flowers follow one another,

Silky white sleeves fluttering in the wind [as they] descend from the Ten Lands.[3]

The third pentad after Spring Commences: gazing-spring [4]






In the riverside village, mid-spring, rapeseed flowers turn yellow,

And the old garden’s life awakes under the blazing sun.

[I] recall mooring at Pingwang in the jiachen year [1784/85],[5]

[Their] pure fragrance along the two banks seeing off [our] light boat.

The first pentad after Rain Water: rapeseed

[1] Coloured characters rhyme. [2] Penglai is a legendary island where immortals live. [3] In Daoist legends, shi zhou 十洲 (Ten Lands) refers to the ten mountains in the sea where immortals dwell. The term is also a metaphor for the realm of immortals. [4] Wangchun now often refers to wangchun yulan 望春玉兰 (Magnolia biondii), whereas the plant in the image is clearly not a magnolia. The National Palace Museum, Taipei identifies it as xiuqiu 繡球 (Hydrangea), a species of white hortensia; cf. [5] Pingwang is a town in modern Jiangsu province. This line refers to Jiaqing’s (who was not yet the heir apparent in 1784/85) experience of accompanying Qianlong Emperor 乾隆 (1711-1799, ruling 1735-1796) in his sixth inspection tour to southern China.


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