On Mountain-climbing Day
- Poetry of Du Fu


- Last updated: 2024-03-27 21:58:59

On Mountain-climbing Day by Du Fu





English Translation

I drink my wine alone on Mountain-climbing Day,

Though ill, I go up riverside tower and stay.

I cannot drink wine made out of bamboo’s green leaves;

Chrysanthemums not in full bloom, I think none grieves.

But black apes wail at sunset in a foreign land;

White swans will come before the frost without command.

Where are my homesick younger brothers and sisters dear?

War flames afar and nearing old age make me drear.

By Du Fu

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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