“Written At A Party Where My Lord Gave Away A Thousand Bolts Of Silk”
A bolt of silk for each clear toned song.
Still these beauties do not think it is enough.
Little do they know of a weaving girl,
Sitting cold by her window,
Endlessly throwing her shuttle to and fro.
–Ch’ien T’ao, early 11th c. Chinese poet, translated by Kenneth Rexroth and Ling Chung
When I look for information about the woman poet who wrote this beautiful piece, I discover that she was a concubine of a prime minister of Sung. Only two of her poems survive. So I celebrate her this morning, on International Womens Day, and I celebrate all the women who noticed and wrote and whose work survives — or doesn’t. And the young girl weaving the silk, who no doubt had dreams of her own.