Poems of Hồ Xuân Hương : 叙情(隻栢) - Confession (III)

Title:叙情(隻栢) - Confession (III)
Her lonely boat fated to fload aimlessly
Midstream, weary with sadness, drifting.
Her hold overflowing with duty and feeling,
Bow rocked by storms, adrift and wandering.
She rows on, not caring who tries to dock,
Sails on, not caring who tries the rapids.
Whoever comes on board is pleased
As she plucks her guitar, sad and drifting.
Notes:The first words allude to an ancient poem, “Thuyền Bách,” or “The Cedar Boat,” which in Chinese legend was written by Princess Cung- Khương after the death of her husband, Cung-Bá, Prince of Vệ, during the Chou Dynasty. Against her parents’ urging she refused to remarry, accepting the tional figure for a woman obliged to live alone. Vậy (line seven) echoes “ở vậy,” or “never to remarry”. Throughout the poem, however, Hồ Xuân Hương subverts this model of high virtue by using ship and sailing terms with obscene, double meanings suggesting other activities.