An Ode to the Willow
- Poetry of He Zhizhang


- Last updated: 2024-04-16 21:48:58

An Ode to the Willow by He Zhizhang



English Translation

Up to your crown, O willow, dressed in the green of jades,

Myriads of twigs so verdant, droop like your silken braids.

Who knows who the tailor is, who’s cut your leaves so fine? It’s

The vernal winds past February, sharp as the scissors’ blades.

He Zhizhang explores the anthropogenic characteristics of nature in this poem. He likens the willow tree to a beautiful woman, describing the clothing as the color of 碧玉 (green jade) and wearing material made of 丝 (silk). Already, the poet portrays this woman as one who either has the wealth and desire to clothe herself in fine goods. After that, He interacts nature with the woman, revealing that her clothing was tailored by 二月春风 (February’s vernal wind). The interconnectedness of nature and humans reveal that he constantly thinks of this woman, as even a mere tree reminds him of her.

· PreThe Swordsman
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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