Observing the Swimming Fish
- Poetry of Bai Juyi

《观游鱼》

- Last updated: 2024-03-29 19:53:02

Observing the Swimming Fish by Bai Juyi
中文原文

绕池闲步看鱼游,正值儿童弄钓舟。

一种爱鱼心各异,我来施食尔垂钩。


English Translation

I leisurely pace around the pond, watching the fish swim,

Just then, I notice a child on a boat, toying with a hook and bait.

We are both fond of fish for different purposes,

Whereas I provide the food, he dangles his hook.

Although Bai Juyi and the little boy both spend time around fish, the former observes the fish and gives them food to grow whereas the latter fishes for food. The tone of this piece can be interpreted in many ways; in my opinion, the poet expresses a feeling of helplessness.

· PreWooing Lutist
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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