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Hockney, David - Lady Midnight songs - 2 Summer



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Midnight Songs poetry, also Tzu-yeh Songs, refers both to a genre of poetry as well as to specifically collected poems under the same name, during the fourth century CE.   This is of major significance within the Classical Chinese poetry tradition, finding such practitioners of the genre as Li Bai, as well as importantly influencing world poetry through translations. The Midnight Songs have been much used as inspiration for later poetry.  
Although, traditionally the original set of poems was considered to be composed by a woman ("Lady Midnight") living during the Jin Dynasty, in modern Jiangnan, it is more likely that the Midnight Songs are actually a collection of poems by various poets, and/or from the folk tradition.  The poems are arranged into four sections for the four seasons: spring, summer, winter, and autumn. Thematically, they thus represent four views of the seasons.
According to one count, there are 117 of the poems in the traditional collection.



How many nights since I put up my hair?
Long and silky, it spills over my shoulders

and sprawls beautifully across his knees.
There’s nowhere its sympathies won’t go.
Thinking of that wild thirst of love,
head over heels, nothing left undone,

I let blinds down again. Who knows
our abandon through thick and thin?
Up this high, a bedroom needs no walls.
It welcomes winds from every direction,

tender breezes slipping my gauze robe
wide open, teasing my lips into a smile.
joy fades by early spring. And my sorrow
grows colder still with autumn and winter.

But playing at love these warm and moonlit
summer nights, we tangle so well together.

The day’s warm, and quiet. Not a breeze.  
Summer clouds build. Dusk thins. Here,

under thick leaves, hands lead hands to
a drifting gourd sunk into scarlet plum.


The source of the experience

Hockney, David

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