Du Qiuniang or Lady Du Qiu (杜秋娘,?–825?) was a Tang dynasty Chinese poet. She is the only female poet to be included in the famous anthology Three Hundred Tang Poems.

Born in Jinling (modern Nanjing), she became a concubine of the military governor Li Qi at fifteen. After Li was executed for rebelling against Emperor Xianzong, Du served in the emperor’s palace.

Her only surviving poem is the Golden Dress Song (金缕衣), said to have been addressed to Li (translation by Victor Mair):

I urge you, milord, not to cherish your robe of golden thread,
Rather, milord, I urge you to cherish the time of your youth;
When the flower is open and pluckable, you simply must pluck it,
Don’t wait till there are no flowers, vainly to break branches.

The “robe of golden thread” is a synecdoche for Li Qi’s official career.

The Golden Dress Song, counseling the listener to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of youth, has been compared to Robert Herrick’s To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time.

When she was living, poor and old, in her hometown, the poet Du Mu visited her and wrote a poem about the experience (杜秋娘诗).


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