To Swallows Coming to My Boat
- Poetry of Du Fu

《燕子来舟中作》

- Last updated: 2024-03-25 15:15:30

To Swallows Coming to My Boat by Du Fu
中文原文

湖南为客动经春,燕子衔泥两度新。

旧入故园尝识主,如今社日远看人。

可怜处处巢居室,何异飘飘托此身。

暂语船樯还起去,穿花贴水益沾巾。


English Translation

It is the second spring I stay on Southern shore,

To build their nest, the swallows peck twice clods of clay.

“Friends to my garden, you should have known me before.

Why should you gaze at me on this festive spring day?

It is a pity you should build nest here or there.

Does it not look like my boat floating far and nigh?

I should tell you to leave the mast without your stare.

Don’t wrinkle the water and bring tears to my eye!”

This poem expresses the deep and sincere humanity through the image of light swallows, written in a simple, natural and deep way.

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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