A Night Abroad
- Poetry of Du Fu

《旅夜书怀》

- Last updated: 2024-04-26 16:13:26

A Night Abroad by Du Fu
中文原文

细草微风岸,危樯独夜舟。

星垂平野阔,月涌大江流。

名岂文章著,官应老病休。

飘飘何所似,天地一沙鸥。


English Translation

A light wind is rippling at the grassy shore....

Through the night, to my motionless tall mast,

The stars lean down from open space,

And the moon comes running up the river.

...If only my art might bring me fame

And free my sick old age from office! --

Flitting, flitting, what am I like

But a sand-snipe in the wide, wide world!

Five-character-regular-verse

The date of this poem is uncertain, most commentators date it to 765.

It is a poem about a journey, but also about the sadness of old age and wandering without support.

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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