Fun with Yuan Dynasty Songs: “Drinking Wine” in the Song Format of “Mesmerised and Intoxicated by the East Wind”

“Drinking Wine” (對酒) in the Song Format: “Mesmerised and Intoxicated by East Wind” (沉醉東風) and in the Music Scale: Shuang Diao (雙調)
By Lu Zhi

In the middle of drinking, I asked myself, “How much longer can I afford drinking to forget my worries?”
Time is heartlessly tormenting me.
Only if I complete the cultivation of dan in my stomach through Taoist cultivation practise
Will I be able to put out the fire of rage in my heart.
Carrying a gourd containing wine, I spend my days as a drunk.
One day I entered a mountain of clouds with thousands of miles of ridges and sang out loud,
I could not care less if people laugh at me.

“Drinking Wine” in Chinese
[雙調] 沉醉東風.對酒


About Lu Zhi (盧摯)

Lu Zhi (approximately 1,243 – 1,315 A.D.), also known as Lu Chudao, Lu Xinglao or Lu Shuzhai, was a poet in the Yuan Dynasty (1,271 – 1,368 A.D.) His poems are as charming and fresh as a divine goddess in pursuit of springtime. They are also thought to be very natural yet dignified. The Complete Collection of Yuan Dynasty Songs contains 120 of his Songs.

About the Song

“Shuang Diao” (雙調) is one of the music scales in Yuan Dynasty Songs. There were nine most popular music scales for Yuan Dynasty Songs, referred to as the Nine Music Scales (九宮.)

Each Song must follow the specific format of the chosen music score called “Song Format” (曲牌) and each music score has a name. A “Song Format” to a Yuan Dynasty Song is like a “Lyric Verse Format” (詞牌) to a Song Dynasty Lyric Verse. “Mesmerised and Intoxicated by East Wind” (沉醉東風) is the name of a Song Format.

“Drinking Wine” is the title of this Song. Like Song Dynasty Lyric Verse, a Yuan Dynasty Song can be written with or without a title. Having a Song Format will suffice.

Dan in the stomach refers to internal dan. In the Taoist cultivation school, there are two types of dan: internal dan and external dan. In ancient China, a type of gourd is used to contain wine after its contents are emptied and it is dried.

The Author’s Interpretation

Although the poet was a high-level government official, he was unhappy because of all sorts of troublesome issues in the secular society. He could ill afford to release his anger, so he internalised his rage, which became what he called the “fire of rage in his heart.” He tried to forget about his worries and moroseness by drinking, but it was only a temporary escape. After all, he could not be drunk at all times. Besides, life is short. He knows that he is wasting away his life every day by drinking and that he has to find a solution to his problem. He thinks of freeing himself and going to a mountain to pursue Taoist cultivation practise with the purpose of completing the cultivation of dan and attaining godhood and a worry-free existence in paradise. He does not care if ordinary people can understand or approve of his choice or not. It does not even matter to him if some people choose to laugh at his choice! “Let them be!” the poet commented.

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