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133  The Jewel Stairs’ Grievance  next. Gafu1 [玉 階 怨] Gioku Kai Yen Jewel stairs grievance ladder grief, slightly tinged with hatred, resent. [The Jewel Stairs’ Grievance] [1] [玉 階 生 白 露] Gioku Kai sei baku ro jewel2 steps grow white dew The jewel stairs have already become white with dew. (dew was thought to grow on things) [The jewelled steps are already quite white with dew,] [2] [夜 久 侵 羅 襪] Ya Kiu shun{in} ra betsu night long permeate transparent stocking attack gauze3 Far gone in the night, the dew4 has come up to my/gauze sock. [It is so late that the dew soaks my gauze stockings,] [3] [卻 下 水 晶 簾] Kiaku ka sui sho ren let down down5 water crystal sudare6 crystal So I let down the crystal curtain [And I let down the crystal curtain] ⎫ ⎪ ⎪ ⎬ ⎪ ⎪ ⎭ 134 Cribs for Cathay & Other Poems adj. adj [4] [玲 瓏 望 秋 月] Rei ro bo shu getsu transparent clear7 look at autumn moon And still look on the bright moon shining beyond. [And watch the moon through the clear autumn.]8 end. [NOTE.—Jewelstairs,thereforeapalace.Grievance,thereforethereissomethingtocomplainof. Gauze stockings, therefore a court lady, not a servant who complains. Clear autumn, therefore he has no excuse on account of weather. Also she has come early, for the dew has not merely whitened the stairs, but has soaked her stockings. The poem is especially prized because she utters no direct reproach.]10 Notes THE JEWEL STAIRS’ GRIEVANCE (100–4235, MF 3389:146v–147r, Pound’s #27; TSSC 4:5a; LTBQJ 1:293; 玉階怨 [Resentment on the Jade Steps]), by Li Bo. With Mori & Ariga, February 9, 1900. This yuefu 樂府 (Music Bureau–style verse) is based on one of the ancient topics for folk tunes, the “palace complaint” (gong yuan 宮怨), and more particularly on a highly regarded exemplar by Xie Tiao 謝脁 (464–499) with the same title, to which Li Bo’s poem alludes (see last note). Pound discusses this poem in his two-part essay “Chinese Poetry” (see this edition), which dilates on his final note here. Pound undoubtedly read the English translation by Herbert Giles in his Chinese Poetry in English Verse (1898), which is a good example of the kind of pat versification that Pound was trying to blast out of favor forever: The Jewel Stairs’ Grievance 135 FROM THE PALACE Cold dews of night the terrace crown, And soak my stockings and my gown; I’ll step behind The crystal blind, And watch the autumn moon sink down. (72) Compare this from Judith Gautier’s Le livre de jade (1867): L’ESCALIER DE JADE Selon Li-Taï-Pé Sous la douce clarté de la pleine Lune, l’Impératrice remonte son escalier de jade, tout brillant de rosée. Le bas de la robe baise doucement le bord des marches; le satin blanc et le jade se resemblent. Le clair de Lune a envahi l’appartement de l’Impératrice; en passant la porte, elle est tout éblouie; Et, sur le parquet de bois pâle, on dirait une ronde d’étoiles. (47–48) [Under the soft brightness of the full moon, the Empress reascends her jade staircase shining with dew./The hem of her dress softly kisses the edge of the steps; the white satin and the jade look alike./The light of the Moon has overrun the Empress’s chamber; as she passes through the door, she is completely dazzled;/And on the pale wood of the parquet, it looks like a dance of stars.] Gautier elaborated on her translation for the 1902 reprinting of Le livre de jade, as: L’ESCALIER DE JADE Li-Taï-Pé 李太白 L’escalier de Jade est tout scintillant de rosée. Lentement, par cette longue nuit, la souveraine le remonte; laissant la gaze de ses bas et la traîne du vêtement royal, se mouiller, aux gouttes brillantes. Sur le seuil du pavillon, éblouie, elle s’arrête, puis baisse le store de cristal, qui tombe, comme une cascade, sous laquelle on voit le soleil. Et, tandis que s’apaise le clair cliquetis, triste et longuement rêveuse, elle regarde, à travers les perles, briller la lune d’automne. (103) [The Jade staircase is all sparkling with dew./Slowly, in this long night, the sovereign reascends it, letting the gauze of her stockings and the train of her royal garment become wet with the shining drops./On the threshold of the pavilion, dazzled, she stops, then lowers the crystal blind, which falls like a waterfall through which one sees the sun./And, as the clear clinking settles, this dreamer gazes sad...


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