Poem 21 from ‘Lyrics from the Chinese’ by Helen Waddell (Cantonese translation)

Poem 21:

I would have gone to my lord in his need,

Have galloped there all the way,

But this is a matter concerns the State,

And I, being a woman, must stay.

I watched them leaving the palace yard,

In carriage and robe of state,

I would have gone by the hills and the fords;

I know they will come too late.

I may walk in the garden and gather

Lilies of mother-of-pearl.

I had a plan would have saved the State.

–But mine are the thoughts of a girl.

The Elder Statemen sit on the mats,

And wrangle through half the day;

A hundred plans they have drafted and dropped,

And mine was the only way.

21:

君命本不可違,

徹馬應時不待。

國之安危更重,

女兒身亦需留。

吾見將士離庭,

車馬戰袍加身。

跨越千山萬水,

不知何日歸程。

吾可漫步花園,

拾得珠白花瓣。

心懷救國良策,

奈何出自女身。

臣子群坐墊上,

半日思想未果。

千般計謀用盡,

吾之乃是唯一。

arts council - lotteryResearch and translation of selected poems from Lyrics from the Chinese was made possible by a 2012 Minority Ethnic Artist Award from the Arts Council Northern Ireland.

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