[blue_message]
300 Tang Poems, No. 222

This, a seven-character regulated verse, is the only poem by Qin Taoyu in the anthology, but, judging from the number of times it appears on internet pages, it seems to be a favorite. It does not offer the familiar idealized image of the lovely woman alone in her tower yearning for the man who has gone away. Instead, it gives us a more realistic and compassionate view of a poor but talented girl unlikely to find a husband to rescue her from the poverty trap.

? ? ?

Qin Taoyu

? ?

A Poor Woman

? ? ? ? ? ? ?

humble home have not known beautiful silks fragrant

? ? ? ? ? ? ?

plan rely on matchmaker benefit self grieve

? ? ? ? ? ? ?

who love talent high morals

? ? ? ? ? ? ?

share pitiful times frugal dress and makeup

? ? ? ? ? ? ?

dare shall 10 fingers brag needle clever

? ? ? ? ? ? ?

not with eyebrows make draw long

? ? ? ? ? ? ?

bitter each year push gold thread

? ? ? ? ? ? ?

for others marry bridal gowns

In her humble cottage, fragrant silks are things unknown.
She grieves that go-between refuse to help her,
for who would fall for homely skills and honesty?
Frugal dress and simple make-up gather only pity.
She can boast of agile fingers, clever with a needle,
but can’t compete with painting comely eyebrows.
More desperate every year, she embroiders golden thread
on gorgeous bridal gowns for other girls to wear.  

My finished translation followed the literal version fairly closely, although I did take the liberty of adding “gorgeous” in the final line, which does not appear in the original.
[/blue_message]