Staying at the General's Headquarters
- Poetry of Du Fu

《宿府》

- Last updated: 2024-03-19 15:05:19

Staying at the General's Headquarters by Du Fu
中文原文

清秋幕府井梧寒,独宿江城蜡炬残。

永夜角声悲自语,中天月色好谁看?

风尘荏苒音书绝,关塞萧条行路难。

已忍伶俜十年事,强移栖息一枝安。


English Translation

The autumn night is clear and cold in the lakka-trees of this courtyard.

I am lying forlorn in the river-town. I watch my guttering candle.

I hear the lonely notes of a bugle sounding through the dark.

The moon is in mid-heaven, but there's no one to share it with me.

My messengers are scattered by whirls of rain and sand.

City-gates are closed to a traveller; mountains are walls in my way --

Yet, I who have borne ten years of pitiable existence,

Find here a perch, a little branch, and am safe for this one night.

Seven-character-regular-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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