The Tong Tree at Yunju Temple
- Poetry of Bai Juyi


- Last updated: 2024-04-14 20:10:52

The Tong Tree at Yunju Temple by Bai Juyi








English Translation

Inside the courtyard of Yunju Temple there stands an ancient Tong tree, 

tall and green, in many leaves shining brilliantly; 

already fifty feet high, 

it continues to grow;

in the temple there lives a monk ninety years old who shows not his age;

when he first planted the tree,

it was a tiny seed; 

it then grew into a tender shoot as fine as a hair;

with nothing to protect it, 

and independent of all things, 

it grew up straight and tall;

you who live in this world should be this way, 

raising yourselves as straight and true as this tree.

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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