Chinese Puzzle Box

Explorations in and about China

Heartsickness – Wang Wei


Red Beans are sprouting in the South;
Each tendril shows the Spring returning.
I urge you, love, to harvest all you can,
Each seed a thought of our hearts  yearning.
Lovesickness/ Prime minister idea
wang2 wei2
hong2 dou4 sheng1 nan2 guo2
love pea (red seeds used as love tokens) grow South country
chun1 lai2 fa1 ji3 zhi1
spring come send out several branches
quan4 jun1 duo1 cai3 xie2
Encourage the supreme ruler (or a polite honorific for a friend)  many gather
ci3 wu4 zui4 xiang1 si1
this thing/ outside world best lovesickness/ prime minister idea
“Heartsickness” is overtly a poem about the yearning caused by the separation of two friends or lovers.  I am wondering, though, whether there might be a second message given the alternate translations possible of 君 – jun, 物 – wu, and 相思 – xiang si.  Could Wang Wei have been urging the ruler to take more interest in the outside world rather than shutting himself off and allowing others to rule in his name?
I don’t know enough Chinese history to know if this is at all a possible reading.  Maybe one of my readers can comment?

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