Seeing Li Bai in A Dream I
- Poetry of Du Fu


- Last updated: 2024-02-24 16:30:03

Seeing Li Bai in A Dream I by Du Fu









English Translation

There are sobs when death is the cause of parting;

But life has its partings again and again.

...From the poisonous damps of the southern river

You had sent me not one sign from your exile --

Till you came to me last night in a dream,

Because I am always thinking of you.

I wondered if it were really you,

Venturing so long a journey.

You came to me through the green of a forest,

You disappeared by a shadowy fortress....

Yet out of the midmost mesh of your snare,

How could you lift your wings and use them?

...I woke, and the low moon's glimmer on a rafter

Seemed to be your face, still floating in the air.

...There were waters to cross, they were wild and tossing;

If you fell, there were dragons and rivermonsters.


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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