In the classic Chinese novel Dream of the Red Chamber, there are thirteen songs presented to the protagonist, Pao Yu by the Goddess of Disenchantment in order to enlighten him to the nature of what is going on around him.

To truly describe what these poems mean, it would take a firmer grasp of this labyrinthine novel then I have, and, for that matter, it would be almost disappointing to try to explain the metaphysical and poetic vision of this novel in simple terms.

In short, however, Pao Yu is the reincarnation of a stone from the spirit realm, and he is sojunring on earth to learn about human suffering. He is especially close to women, and what he learns from them will highlight his enlightenment.

In Chapter 5 of the book, Pao Yu is sent to a celestial realm in a dream, where a group of spirits sing a series of songs (also called the Dream of the Red Chamber) to remind him of the meaning of his quest. Each one of these 13 songs relates to a woman that he knows on earth.

The versions I have were taken from a 1978 edition of the novel, printed in Beijing, entitled A Dream of Red Mansions.

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