The Temple of Emperor Yu
- Poetry of Du Fu


- Last updated: 2024-03-29 16:53:57

The Temple of Emperor Yu by Du Fu





English Translation

In mountains void the temple shines;

In autumn breeze the sun declines.

In dreary yard fruits hang and fall,

Dragons and snakes dance on the wall.

Through mossy cliffs float mist and cloud,

The foaming river’s rolling loud.

Yu went high and low, far and nigh,

To conquer the flood under the sky.

The first couplet of the poem specifies the place and time of year of the visit and introduces the allusion to Dayu’s water control; the jaw couplet describes the interior of Dayu’s temple from afar to near; the neck couplet describes the surroundings and atmosphere of Dayu’s temple, with clouds steaming inside the temple and the sound of the river below, a majestic scene that alludes to the merits of Dayu’s water control; the last couplet remembers Dayu’s great achievements in water control because of his temple.

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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