Song Of Lovely Women
Third day, third month festival,
and the air fresh with spring;
beside Serpentine Lake in Chang’an,
many lovely women stroll.
Their appearance is elegant,
their thoughts lofty and refined,
their complexions delicate,
figures in perfect proportion.
Their embroidered silk gowns
glisten with spring light;
golden peacocks and beasts of silver
strut upon the fabric.
What is it that they wear
upon their heads?
Jeweled headbands with kingfisher feathers,
dangling to their hairlines.
And what is it that we see
upon their backs?
drawn tight at the waist.
Among them are kin of the Pepper-flower Chamber with its cloud-patterned curtains-
the Duchesses of Guo and Qin,
honored with the names of nations!
A great roast of purple camel hump
rises from a green cauldron,
and crystal plates gleam
with heaps of white-scaled fish.
But the rhinoceros horn chopsticks,
long-sated, are slow to descend,
and the belled knife-handles
dance vainly above the roast.
The flying steeds of the eunuchs
hardly stir the dust,
as they bear in eight exotic dishes
from the Imperial Kitchens.