A Song of Fair Women
- Poetry of Du Fu

《丽人行》

- Last updated: 2024-04-24 13:43:40

A Song of Fair Women by Du Fu
中文原文

三月三日天气新,长安水边多丽人。

态浓意远淑且真,肌理细腻骨肉匀。

绣罗衣裳照暮春,蹙金孔雀银麒麟。

头上何所有?翠微㔩叶垂鬓唇。

背后何所见?珠压腰衱稳称身。

就中云幕椒房亲,赐名大国虢与秦。

紫驼之峰出翠釜,水精之盘行素鳞。

犀箸厌饫久未下,鸾刀缕切空纷纶。

黄门飞鞚不动尘,御厨络绎送八珍。

箫鼓哀吟感鬼神,宾从杂遝实要津。

后来鞍马何逡巡,当轩下马入锦茵。

杨花雪落覆白𬞟,青鸟飞去衔红巾。

炙手可热势绝伦,慎莫近前丞相嗔!


English Translation

On the third day of the Third-month in the freshening weather

Many beauties take the air by the Changan waterfront,

Receptive, aloof, sweet-mannered, sincere,

With soft fine skin and well-balanced bone.

Their embroidered silk robes in the spring sun are gleaming --

With a mass of golden peacocks and silver unicorns.

And hanging far down from their temples

Are blue leaves of delicate kingfisher feathers.

And following behind them

Is a pearl-laden train, rhythmic with bearers.

Some of them are kindred to the Royal House --

The titled Princesses Guo and Qin.

Red camel-humps are brought them from jade broilers,

And sweet fish is ordered them on crystal trays.

Though their food-sticks of unicorn-horn are lifted languidly

And the finely wrought phoenix carving-knife is very little used,

Fleet horses from the Yellow Gate, stirring no dust,

Bring precious dishes constantly from the imperial kitchen.

...While a solemn sound of flutes and drums invokes gods and spirits,

Guests and courtiers gather, all of high rank;

And finally, riding slow, a dignified horseman

Dismounts at the pavilion on an embroidered rug.

In a snow of flying willow-cotton whitening the duckweed,

Bluebirds find their way with vermilion handkerchiefs --

But power can be as hot as flame and burn people's fingers.

Be wary of the Premier, watch for his frown.

Folk-song-styled-verse

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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