Wang Wei: Xishi Prose Poem

Xishi Prose Poem

西 施 咏
艳 色 天 下 重
西 施 宁 久 微?
朝 为 越 溪 女
暮 作 吴 宫 妃。
贱 日 岂 殊 众?
贵 来 方 悟 稀。
邀 人 傅 脂 粉
不 自 着 罗 衣。
君 宠 益 娇 态
君 怜 无 是 非。
当 时 浣 纱 伴
莫 得 同 车 归。
持 谢 邻 家 子
效 颦 安 可 希。
Xi Shi Yong

Yan se tian xia zhong
Xi shi ning jiu wei ?
Zhao wei yue xi nu
Mu zuo wu gong fei.

Jian ri qi shu zhong ?
Gui lai fang wu xi.
Yao ren fu zhi fen
Bu zi zhuo luo yi.

Jun chong yo jiao tai
Jun lian wu shi fei.
Dang shi huan sha ban
Mo de tong che gui.
Chi xie lin jia zi
Xiao pin an ke xi.


Xishi Prose Poem

Fresh and attractive feminine beauty worth all the land under Heaven
How could she stay hidden for such a long time?
At dawn a small-stream wash woman
By sunset a Wu prince promotes her to a palace imperial concubine.

During humble days, who thought of her standing above the crowd?
Now so valuable, hardly a person sees her.
With servants applying her makeup and dressing her in the finest silks
The Prince’s indulgences increase her charms and appearance.

Though this sympathy for her is not wrong
At that time, of her old coworkers, none would receive the same opportunity.
Consider the lady next door who tried to copy her beauty
This beauty is innate and cannot be copied.



Xishi: A famous Chinese beauty (ca. 510-460 B.C.)

Wu prince:  Ancient kingdom of Wu located in modern day northern Zhejiang and southern Jiangsu provinces.

The lady next door:  An ugly girl living in Xishi’s neighborhood.  According to legend, she faked an illness to copy Xishi, hoping to be noticed, but only made herself  a laughing stock.


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