Year's End
- Poetry of Bai Juyi

Year's End by Bai Juyi











English Translation

A wretched year

comes to an end; for the last

ten days there have been but dull grey skies

with wind and frost cutting across people’s

faces; going out by cart, wheels break

in the snow and ice; yet at such a time,

I feel not the smallest discomfort; my

morning meal is never a problem as

my store is full of grain;

for the evening cold there is plenty

of fuel; a heavy padded cap

comes down over my ears, while

two thicknesses of fur enwrap

my body; I sit and drink

a cup of wine at leisure –

to me it’s as warm as spring;

but most of the lesser gentry

and common folk of Luoyang

are poor and hungry, one house

hard against the next, with

no smoke rising from any

of their hearths, too often their

family cooking pots thick

with dust; those like myself who

are well fed and clothed

number less than one

in a hundred; how can I

but be ashamed of myself?

I write this poem

to state the matter clearly.

By Bai Juyi

- Last updated: 2024-07-08 15:16:07
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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