It is supposed that the husband whose death is bewailed in this piece had died in one of the military expeditions of which duke Hsien (B.C. 676-651) was fond. It may have been so, but there is nothing in the piece to make us think of duke Hsien. I give it a place in the volume, not because of the religious sentiment in it, but because of the absence of that sentiment, Where we might expect it. The lady shows the grand virtue of a Chinese widow, in that she will never marry again. And her grief would not be assuaged. The days would all seem long summer days, and the nights all long winter nights; so that a hundred long years would seem to drag their slow course, But there is not any hope expressed of a re-union with her husband in another state. The 'abode' and the 'chamber' of which she speaks are to be understood of his grave; and her thoughts do not appear to go beyond it.
The dolichos grows, covering the thorn trees; The convolvulus spreads all over the waste 3. The
man of my admiration is no more here;--With whom can I dwell? I abide alone.
The dolichos grows, covering the jujube trees; The convolvulus spreads all over the tombs. The man of my admiration is no more here;--With whom can I dwell? I rest alone.
How beautiful was the pillow of horn! How splendid was the embroidered coverlet 1! The man of my admiration is no more here;--With whom can I dwell? Alone (I wait for) the morning.
Through the (long) days of summer, Through the (long) nights of winter (shall I be alone), Till the lapse of a hundred years, When I shall go home to his abode.
Through the (long) nights of winter, Through the (long) days of summer(shall I be alone), Till the lapse of a hundred years, When I shall go home to his chamber.
441:3 These two lines are taken as allusive, the speaker being led by the sight of the weak plants supported by the trees, shrubs, and tombs, to think of her own desolate, unsupported condition. But they may also be taken as narrative, and descriptive of the battleground, where her husband had met his death.
442:1 These things had been ornaments of the bridal chamber; and as the widow thinks of them, her grief becomes more intense.