| 2020-11-11 | Hits:
(Chinese Social Sciences Today)

This character usually refers to a duke state under the Western Zhou Dynast (1046–771 BCE), rising from the valley of the Yangtze River.

mù ǎi chén chén chǔ tiān kuò
Mu refers to dusk and ai cloud and mist. Chen chen is an adjective meaning "thick." Chu refers to the region where the ancient State of Chu was situated and tian is the sky. Kuo means "to be boundless." 
This is a line from a well-known ci poem written by the Song poet Liu Yong (c. 984–1053). Liu is a representative poet of the Wanyue School, or Graceful and Restrained School, which mainly dealt with romantic love, featuring "boudoir sentiments" and the subtle use of language. Liu spent his earlier life as a habitué of the entertainment quarters. His lyrics gained authenticity from these experiences. This realism, coupled with directness of expression and his much-criticized use of colloquialisms, distinguished Liu's poetry from many of the wanyue-style poems. 
In this poem titled "Yu Lin Ling," Liu expressed his sorrow at parting from his lover. "Mournfully chirr the cicadas,/ As the shower of rain stops/ And we face the roadside pavilion at dusk./ We drink without cheer in the tent outside the city gate;/ It is the moment we are loath to part/ But the magnolia-wood boat beckons me on./ Hands clasped together we see our tears,/ So overcome, unable to utter a single word./ Ahead lies a journey a thousand li of misty waves/ And the vast sky of Chu hangs with heavy evening haze./ Since time immemorial, lovers have grieved at parting/ Made more poignant in the fallow season of autumn./ What is this place where I have sobered from my drunken stupor?/ ‘The riverside is strewn with willow trees,/ The morning breeze wafts in with a waning moon.'/ Our parting will last for years,/ Fine hours and scenes of beauty have no appeal/ Even though my heart is filled with tender feelings,/ But, with whom can I share them?" (trans. Yang Xianyi & Gladys Yang)
Some speculate that Liu's lover was a singsong girl. Most people at that time looked down on entertainment women, but Liu’s poems reveal that he treated these women with respect and care. It is said that after Liu's death, many entertainment women came to bid farewell to him.