Peach Blossom at Dalin Temple
- Poetry of Bai Juyi


- Last updated: 2024-03-29 20:11:39

Peach Blossom at Dalin Temple by Bai Juyi



Peach Blossom at Dalin Temple

English Translation

Across the world this June, the petals all have fallen,

But the mountain temple's peach blossom has just begun to bloom.

I regretted so much that spring had gone without a trace,

I didn't know that it had only moved up here.

In this famous piece, Bai Juyi takes a natural occurrence and transforms it into a mystical phenomenon. 

Due to differing altitudes and temperatures, flowers on the Dalin Temple mountain would bloom later than the flowers on lower altitudes; however, Bai instead views this through the lens of a poet with a playful spirit, treating these peach blossom flowers as a form of hide-and-seek with the flirting spring. The poet expresses the magical aura surrounding the temple itself, making a stark difference between 人间 (the human realm) and 山寺 (the temple on the mountain) — already, readers sense that the temple will carry something special to the poet. 

In the latter half of the poem, Bai portrays spring’s flowers as dying on the earth, only to spring up and flourish on this mystical mountain. In a way, he associates spring with peace and quiet, a time for reflection on the top of a mountain devoted to religion.

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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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