Seven Pace Song
- Poetry of Cao Zhi

《七步诗》

- Last updated: 2024-04-22 11:59:41

Seven Pace Song by Cao Zhi
中文原文

煮豆持作羹,漉菽以为汁。 

 萁在釜下燃,豆在釜中泣。 

 本自同根生,相煎何太急?

Seven Pace Song


English Translation

Boiling beans burns the beanstalk,

Beans inside the pan cry:

We're both grown from one root,

Why so fast to boil each other?

This poem uses the metaphor of beanstalks and beans, which are born from the same root, to compare brothers who share the same father and mother, and uses the metaphor of beanstalks frying their beans to compare Cao Pi, a brother of the same flesh and blood, who brutalised his younger brother, to express his strong dissatisfaction with Cao Pi.

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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