A Letter to Censor Han
- Poetry of Du Fu

《寄韩谏议注》

- Last updated: 2024-04-25 21:28:03

A Letter to Censor Han by Du Fu
中文原文

今我不乐思岳阳,身欲奋飞病在床。

美人娟娟隔秋水,濯足洞庭望八荒。

鸿飞冥冥日月白,青枫叶赤天雨霜。

玉京群帝集北斗,或骑麒麟翳凤凰。

芙蓉旌旗烟雾落,影动倒景摇潇湘。

星宫之君醉琼浆,羽人稀少不在旁。

似闻昨者赤松子,恐是汉代韩张良。

昔随刘氏定长安,帷幄未改神惨伤。

国家成败吾岂敢,色难腥腐餐枫香。

周南留滞古所惜,南极老人应寿昌。

美人胡为隔秋水,焉得置之贡玉堂。


English Translation

I am sad. My thoughts are in Youzhou.

I would hurry there-but I am sick in bed.

...Beauty would be facing me across the autumn waters.

Oh, to wash my feet in Lake Dongting and see at its eight corners

Wildgeese flying high, sun and moon both white,

Green maples changing to red in the frosty sky,

Angels bound for the Capital of Heaven, near the North Star,

Riding, some of them phrenixes, and others unicorns,

With banners of hibiscus and with melodies of mist,

Their shadows dancing upside-down in the southern rivers,

Till the Queen of the Stars, drowsy with her nectar,

Would forget the winged men on either side of her!

...From the Wizard of the Red Pine this word has come for me:

That after his earlier follower he has now a new disciple

Who, formerly at the capital as Emperor Liu's adviser,

In spite of great successes, never could be happy.

...What are a country's rise and fall?

Can flesh-pots be as fragrant as mountain fruit?....

I grieve that he is lost far away in the south.

May the star of long life accord him its blessing!

...O purity, to seize you from beyond the autumn waters

And to place you as an offering in the Court of Imperial Jade.

Seven-character-ancient-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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