Departure from Changsha
- Poetry of Du Fu

《发潭州》

- Last updated: 2024-03-25 15:12:50

Departure from Changsha by Du Fu
中文原文

夜醉长沙酒,晓行湘水春。

岸花飞送客,樯燕语留人。

贾傅才未有,褚公书绝伦。

名高前后事,回首一伤神。


English Translation

Drunken at night in Southern town,

I sail on vernal stream at dawn.

Fallen petals bid me adieu,

Swallows’ songs retain me anew.

A talent exiled long ago,

A good hand banished in woe.

What good to win a wide-spread fame?

Looking back, nothing’s left to blame.

The poem is a masterpiece of Du Fu’s later years, with its expressive techniques, such as using objects to convey meaning, or using allusions to express emotions, or expressing his feelings directly.

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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