A Long Climb ( Climbing High )
- Poetry of Du Fu


- Last updated: 2024-05-07 18:25:43

A Long Climb ( Climbing High ) by Du Fu





English Translation

In a sharp gale from the wide sky apes are whimpering,

Birds are flying homeward over the clear lake and white sand,

Leaves are dropping down like the spray of a waterfall,

While I watch the long river always rolling on.

I have come three thousand miles away. Sad now with autumn

And with my hundred years of woe, I climb this height alone.

Ill fortune has laid a bitter frost on my temples,

Heart-ache and weariness are a thick dust in my wine.


This poem dates from around 766; it was written for the Double Ninth festival, on which people traditionally climbed to a height and drank wine together.

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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