On Climbing in Nanjing to the Terrace of Phoenixes
- Poetry of Li Bai (Li Po)


- Last updated: 2024-05-07 17:57:48

On Climbing in Nanjing to the Terrace of Phoenixes by Li Bai (Li Po)





English Translation

Phoenixes that played here once, so that the place was named for them,

Have abandoned it now to this desolate river;

The paths of Wu Palace are crooked with weeds;

The garments of Qin are ancient dust.

...Like this green horizon halving the Three Peaks,

Like this Island of White Egrets dividing the river,

A cloud has arisen between the Light of Heaven and me,

To hide his city from my melancholy heart.


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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