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葉茵《酷暑》 “Scorching heat” by Ye Yin (fl. 12th century)

動息汗流, Beads of sweat trickle down [me], [whether I] move or rest,

無風可滌。 Without wind to rinse [them] away.

炎威獄下吏, [Facing] such fiery asperity from the jailer,

生意鼎中。 [My] spirit simmers like a fish.

席地杯氷水, [I] sit on the floor, with a cup of icy water,

扃門謝客。 And bar the door, declining visitors’ carriages.

因思遊宦者, My thoughts then turn to itinerant officials:

曽未憶家[1] Have they missed home?

[1] Red characters rhyme.


Despite the recurrent complaints about heat in poetry, it's not easy to find sweating figures in visual traditions. Paintings of summertime more often show calm, contented figures who seem to have managed to dissipate heat or at least to have found their way to endure it...

Anonymous Southern Song artist (1127-1279), "Haiyin xiao xia tu" 槐蔭消夏圖

Anonymous Southern Song artist, "Liuyin xiao shu" 柳蔭消暑


 

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