Autumn Butterfly
- Poetry of Bai Juyi


- Last updated: 2024-04-10 11:30:45

Autumn Butterfly by Bai Juyi







English Translation

A purple autumn flower,

a golden autumn butterfly;

the flower is a new blossom,

the butterfly just born,

flitting happily between one

flower and the next; then

at night, a cold wind comes

and the flower petals fall to

the ground, while among

them lies the little butterfly

now dead; in the daytime, both

were alive; come night, both

were dead; everything that lives

is the same; have you ever seen

a thousand year-old crane?

It is said they live only

on top of tall and ancient pines!

By Bai Juyi

Why Chinese poems is so special?
The most distinctive features of Chinese poetry are: concision- many poems are only four lines, and few are much longer than eight; ambiguity- number, tense and parts of speech are often undetermined, creating particularly rich interpretative possibilities; and structure- most poems follow quite strict formal patterns which have beauty in themselves as well as highlighting meaningful contrasts.
How to read a Chinese poem?
Like an English poem, but more so. Everything is there for a reason, so try to find that reason. Think about all the possible connotations, and be aware of the different possibilities of number and tense. Look for contrasts: within lines, between the lines of each couplet and between successive couplets. Above all, don't worry about what the poet meant- find your meaning.

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