In the poem 'Peonies' by Li Ch'ing-chai, on lines 7 & 8, it says, "In The morning breeze, in glottering dew, You make your morning toilet." I can't figure out what the translation is behind...

In the poem 'Peonies' by Li Ch'ing-chai, on lines 7 & 8, it says,

"In The morning breeze, in glottering dew,

You make your morning toilet."

I can't figure out what the translation is behind it, I am very confused. If you could point me in the right direction or help me translate that small part that would be very helpful.

1 Answer | Add Yours

huntress's profile pic

huntress | College Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted on

"Peonies" admires a beautiful woman from afar, comparing her to a peony, a Chinese symbol of feminine beauty and love. The beautiful woman--perhaps the emperor's favorite--shines above the rest, who seem to have "withered" in comparison to her. 

In the morning breeze, in glittering dew, 

You make your morning toilet 

And become still more splendid and bewitching. 

"Making one's toilet," in archaic terms, meant the morning ritual of clean the face and exposed parts of one's body and generally preparing for the day: brushing and braiding the hair, applying makeup, carefully dressing oneself to be "presentable" in polite society before appearing for breakfast. 

For what it's worth, I admit to being a bit confused about this poem in another respect. It's so clearly a love poem, but Li Ch'ing-Chao is just as a clearly writing about a woman. There is a historical record of her briefly writing assignments for the court, so this may have been one of the poems penned during that period. 

We’ve answered 318,911 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question