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POETRY: Lovely Woman - a ballad - Du Fu

On the third day of the month, when the weather
is clear and fresh
A number of lovely women come to the lakeside in
Chang'an.
Exquisite to look at, they carry themselves with a
distant, decorous air,
Their skin refined, their figures formed in elegant
proportions.
The clothes they wear of embroidered silk shine in the
late spring air,
With peacocks done in gold trim and silver unicorns.
And what are the ladies wearing on their heads?
 Flowered plumes of kingfisher green hung to the edge
of their hair.
And what are they showing at their backs?
Closely fitting outer skirts of pearls that hug their
waits.

Among them are kin of the Mistress of the 
Cloud-draped Pepper-scent Chambers,
Ladies ennobled with the names of the great states
Guo and Qin.
Purple camel humps are served, protruding from green
cauldrons,
And pure white fish is brought to them on plates of
crystal glass,
But sated with food, they have little use for their rhino
horn chopsticks,
So chefs waste effort cutting slices with their tinkling knives
While eunuchs' horses fly to and fro without
disturbing the dust
Bringing a series of delectable dishes from the
imperial kitchens.

Then flutes and drums call mournfully with a sound to
stir the gods,
And guests and followers come in throngs, a truly
mighty gathering,
As last of all a rider brings his sauntering horse to
the railing, 
Where he dismounts and goes inside to sit on the
patterned carpet.
Willow blossoms fall like snow and cover the
white frogbit;
A crimson kerchief in its beak, a bluebird flies away.
His power is extraordinary, enough to burn your
hands on;
Take care - do not get too close and provoke the
Chief Minister's anger.

- Du Fu


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