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“Gold-threaded Gown” 金缕衣 – a Tang Dynasty poem by Du Qiuniang

Below I have translated a Tang Dynasty poem in Classical Chinese, supposedly by a famed courtesan Du Qiuniang, that is included in the Three Hundred Tang Poems. According to Wikipedia in Chinese, the poet Du Mu met Du Qiuniang in her old age and wrote a poem called “The Song of Du Qiuniang.” The preface includes the poem I have translated below, which later readers have interpreted as the work of Du Qiuniang herself.

“Gold-threaded Gown”

Du Qiuniang





[First pass]

I entreat you, do not covet that gold-threaded gown,

I entreat you to covet the time of your youth.

Flowers bloom and then are to be plucked,

Do not wait to pluck at a flowerless branch.

[Second pass]

My dear, covet not that gold-threaded gown,

Hold fast to the days of your youth.

Flowers in bloom are ripe for  picking,

Pluck not at a flowerless branch.

NB: There is a much better English translation by Andrew W.F. Wong available on his blog Classical Chinese Poems in English.

1 Comment

  1. Kieran says:

    I added a SoundCloud recording to this post. I’ll add one every time I do a poetry post in the future.

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Kieran Maynard

Kieran Maynard

Writer, translator, researcher, traveler specializing in Japanese and Chinese literature.

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