On Yueyang Tower ( On the Gate-tower at Youzhou )
- Poetry of Du Fu


- Last updated: 2024-03-29 16:48:38

On Yueyang Tower ( On the Gate-tower at Youzhou ) by Du Fu





English Translation

I had always heard of Lake Dongting --

And now at last I have climbed to this tower.

With Wu country to the east of me and Chu to the south,

I can see heaven and earth endlessly floating.

...But no word has reached me from kin or friends.

I am old and sick and alone with my boat.

North of this wall there are wars and mountains --

And here by the rail how can I help crying?


The poem dates from 768. Yueyang (Yuezhou) is a town on the shores of Dongting lake.

The poem depicts the majestic and magnificent image of the vast and boundless waters of Dongting Lake in condensed language, outlining a meteorological picture.

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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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