For a Young Friend
- Poetry of Du Fu

《短歌行赠王郎司直》

- Last updated: 2024-03-28 11:43:57

For a Young Friend by Du Fu
中文原文

王郎酒酣拔剑斫地歌莫哀!我能拔尔抑塞磊落之奇才。

豫章翻风白日动,鲸鱼跋浪沧溟开。且脱佩剑休徘徊。

西得诸侯棹锦水,欲向何门趿珠履?

仲宣楼头春色深,青眼高歌望吾子,眼中之人吾老矣!


English Translation

My dear drunken young friend,

You draw your sword to strike the ground and sing your plaint.

I can help you to end

Your grief and develop your talent without restraint.

You are a giant tree on which sunbeams would quiver,

Or a leviathan whale to make upsurge a river.

So why should you strike the ground with your sword and shiver?

If you go west to cross the River of Brocade,

On whose door would you lean and on whose balustrade?

The tower for talents is built in vernal hue,

All longing eyes are singing and waiting for you,

Bit in your eyes I’m an old man. What can I do?

The whole poem is abrupt, downbeat and sad, with a short rhythm, which is rare in ancient poems and is also an original style. Through the short rhythm of this poem, the author expresses his sorrow and anger for his friend Wang Si Zhi’s empty ambition, but he has nowhere to give it.
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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