It took me quite a few months to read through the poems in here despite it being such a short collection. It is wonderful to have a book of all the poems that survive of a 9th century woman poet. The poems are lovely. They deal with the issues of lonlieness, depression, lost love, and the great frustration of being a woman poet and scholar in a male dominated society where it is not possible to get the recognition you deserve. There are some absolutely beautiful turns of phrase.
I bought this edition because it is bilingual, my Chinese isn't to the point where I can read poetry without the help of an English version. But I was quite disapointed with the layout of this book. The Chinese text was in traditional characters in very small font at the bottom of the page, and for longer poems, on the following page. This meant a lot of flipping back and forth. It was also hard to see. I really think they should have made the characters bigger.
The poetry was beautiful and a fascinating glimpse into women's lives at the time. The biography of her life was brilliant so I will share it here,
"A woman of the Tang dynasty (618-907) from Chang'an by name Youwei second byname Huilan, She was fond of study and had some talent. She became a lesser wife of the official Li Yi. The love between them became decayed, and Xuanji became a Daoist nun in the Xian Yi temple. Because a novice died from a beating administered by Xuanji for disciplinary reasons, Xuanji was condemned and executed. She left one book of poems.
So much information and tragedy is such a few lines. I will savour this book and re-read it many times....Continua