| 2019-12-26 | Hits:
(Chinese Social Sciences Today)
This character usually means “sink” when used as a verb. When used as an adjective, it means “deep, heavy or calm.” As an adverb, it means “very or quite.”


chén zuì bù zhī guī lù 
Chen is an adverb, meaning “very.” Zui means “to be drunk.” Bu zhi means “do not know” and gui lu refers to the way back home. This term means being too drunk to know one’s way home. 
This is a line of the ci poem, “To the Tune of Ru Meng Ling” by Li Qingzhao (1084–1155), China’s greatest female poet, whose works, though it survives only in fragments, continue to be as highly regarded as it was in her own day. “Often remember the Creek Bower at twilight,/ Too drunk to tell the way home./ Having had our fill,/ Returned at night by boat/ And blundered deep into the lotus blooms./ Hurry through,/ Hurry through,/ Startled a beach of herons and gulls” (trans. Ren Zhiji and Yu Zhengze). 
Li was born into a literary family and produced well-regarded poetry while still a teenager. In 1101, she married Zhao Mingcheng, a noted antiquarian, but their marriage was cut short in 1129 by his death during their escape from the Jurchen’s takeover of Kaifeng, the capital of the Northern Song Dynasty (960–1127). Li spent the rest of her life in exile and alone. Li’s works, paralleling her life, are intensely personal. Her earlier works dealt with joy and the later pieces she wrote after her husband’s death and her exile portraying a somber, grief-stricken tone. 
“To the Tune of Ru Meng Ling” is a poem of memory, probably composed when Li was just married. In this poem, with unrestrained joy, Li looks back on her past in her hometown when she was a young lady. After a joyful gathering in a brookside pavilion, Li returned home by boat as night fell. She was drunk and couldn’t find her way home, and the boat plunged deep into the thickets of lotus blossoms. Then she recalled the amazing moment when she tried to scull the boat out of the lotus thicket, a flock of herons and gulls resting on the sand were startled and rose to the sky. Li depicted a cheerful moment of a young lady with a striking diction, reflecting on the carefree vitality of her early life. 
edited by REN GUANHONG