A Short-Song Ballad
- Poetry of Cao Cao


- Last updated: 2024-04-14 20:00:45

A Short-Song Ballad by Cao Cao

















English Translation

The wine, the song, life goes on —

But for how long?

It evaporates, to our dismay,

Like the morning dew, day after day.

Ambition and aspiration sustain me,

But a secret thread of grief worries me.

How can I brush it aside

But by drowning it in wine?

Scholars, scholars, where are you?

Years I have chanted the song of yearning —

But would you ever come over to me?

Deer are calling from the field, grazing

On the tender marsilea.

Let my house be graced with a learned visitor,

I will have music played in his honour.

But he is as bright as the moon,

And how could I make a moon stay?

Here my sorrows surface and swell,

And refuse to go away.

Talented friends, whom I love, I treasure,

For a rendezvous no journey is too long!

Would you mind coming, to our meeting,

To our feast, back to old-days' feeling?

The stars so dim, the moon so bright,

Southbound birds are flying, circling

Round and round over the tree —

On which bough are you alight?

The water can never be too deep,

And the mountain too high.

When an open-minded king calls for talent,

It is him the would must stand by.

By Cao Cao

· PreFish in a Gully
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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