Alone in Her Beauty
- Poetry of Du Fu


- Last updated: 2024-03-25 10:03:58

Alone in Her Beauty by Du Fu













English Translation

Who is lovelier than she?

Yet she lives alone in an empty valley.

She tells me she came from a good family

Which is humbled now into the dust.

...When trouble arose in the Kuan district,

Her brothers and close kin were killed.

What use were their high offices,

Not even shielding their own lives? --

The world has but scorn for adversity;

Hope goes out, like the light of a candle.

Her husband, with a vagrant heart,

Seeks a new face like a new piece of jade;

And when morning-glories furl at night

And mandarin-ducks lie side by side,

All he can see is the smile of the new love,

While the old love weeps unheard.

The brook was pure in its mountain source,

But away from the mountain its waters darken.

...Waiting for her maid to come from selling pearls

For straw to cover the roof again,

She picks a few flowers, no longer for her hair,

And lets pine-needles fall through her fingers,

And, forgetting her thin silk sleeve and the cold,

She leans in the sunset by a tall bamboo.


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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