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Where are all the babes?

Elegantly-dressed young Chinese women of a time before the twentieth century playing outdoors, one of the swinging on a swing.Tuesday’s London Mandarin Learners Meet-up session involved participants introducing themselves to the group. One of us turned out to be a ‘swing’ dance instructor. This brought to mind another of Su Shi’s poems – Butterflies Lingering over Flowers – as the first line of its second (and final) stanza reads ” Within the wall, a swing “. The poem’s title seems a bit obscure, given it has no mention of butterflies, perhaps they are a metaphor for besotted young men. I prefer my title which is a slight re-wording of the last line of the first stanza which directly translates “horizon what place not fragrant grass “.

Poem card bearing the text of Butterflies Lingering Over Flowers a poem by Su Shi of ChinaThe poem card I made for passing time held up at traffic lights in Taipei uses full-form Chinese characters.

Flowers are shed, they fall, in their place tiny green apricots
It is the time when swallows fly and green waters surround the homesteads
Catkins on willow branches are blown off, thus ever fewer in number
Where are all the babes?

Within the wall a swing, without the wall a road
Without the wall a pedestrian, within the wall the beauty is laughing
Laughter gradually becomes inaudible, sound becomes silence
He who loves too much is distressed by the one who has no love.

蝶恋花 is the Chinese title of the poem, and 苏轼 is the poet’s name.
This is the link to his other poem I have covered,
and here’s the Simplified Chinese character text –



A painting of an east Asiatic bearded man standing amidst tree vegetation looking downward Description: