Poems of Hồ Xuân Hương : 叙情 - Confession (II)

Title:叙情 - Confession (II)
Before dawn, the watch drum rumbles.
Lonely pink face among mountains and streams
Addled but alert with a cup of fragrant wine
As the moon sets, just a sliver not yet full.
Moss seems to creep across the earth’s face.
Stony peaks pierce the belly of the clouds.
Sick with sadness, spring passes, spring returns.
A bit of love shaved, just the littlest bit.
Notes:In the original, a drumbeat is sounded through the required end rhymes (dòn, non, tròn, hòn, con con) as well as some internal echoes (hồng, bóng, xuân, xan or san). In line four she is playing on her family, or clan, name, Hồ, 胡, a Nôm character in two parts made from the Chinese words “old” (cổ: 古) and “moon” (nguyệt: 月). In the next-to-last line, xuân (“spring”) is of course part of Hồ Xuân Hương’s given name: Spring Essence. In one of Chiêu-Hổ’s poetic replies to Hồ Xuân Hương, he plays on her names. Người cổ lại mang thêm thói nguyệt 月 Phòng xuân 春 còn để lại mùi hương香... A traditional woman, yet still flirting. Springtime still lingering fragrance.