On Meeting Li Guinian Down the River
- Poetry of Du Fu

《江南逢李龟年》

- Last updated: 2024-04-14 20:33:34

On Meeting Li Guinian Down the River by Du Fu
中文原文
Simplified Chinese Version

岐王宅里寻常见,催九堂前几度闻。

正是江南好风景,落花时节又逢君。

Traditional Chinese Version

岐王宅裡尋常見, 崔九堂前幾度聞。

正是江南好風景, 落花時節又逢君。


English Translation

I met you often when you were visiting princes

And when you were playing in noblemen's halls.

...Spring passes.... Far down the river now,

I find you alone under falling petals.

Seven-character-quatrain

This poem dates from 770. Li Guinian was a musician at the court of emperor Xuanzong.

The language of the poem is very simple, but the meaning is very far-reaching and full of connotation, containing a very rich content of social life, expressing the feeling of the waning of the world and the desolation and dislocation of life.

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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