The Emperor of Qin
- Poetry of Li Bai (Li Po)

《古风·秦王扫六合》

- Last updated: 2024-03-24 16:41:59

The Emperor of Qin by Li Bai (Li Po)
中文原文

秦王扫六合,虎视何雄哉!

挥剑决浮云,诸侯尽西来。

明断自天启,大略驾群才。

收兵铸金人,函谷正东开。

铭功会稽岭,骋望琅琊台。

刑徒七十万,起土骊山隈。

尚采不死药,茫然使心哀。

连弩射海鱼,长鲸正崔嵬。

额鼻象五岳,扬波喷云雷。

鬐鬣蔽青天,何由睹蓬莱?

徐巿载秦女,楼船几时回?

但见三泉下,金棺葬寒灰。


English Translation

The Emperor had swept the world of his foes,

Looking around like a tiger he rose.

He broke the floating clouds while wielding swords,

Westward to pay their homage came all lords.

He made great plans and formed decisions wise,

In front of him all heroes dwarfed in size.

He melted weapons into statues of brass,

And opened to the East the frontier pass.

He built a monument on Eastern Hill,

And rode to Southern Tower to gaze his fill.

He worked seven hundred thousand slaves 

To build in deep mountain recess his graves.

He sought elixir of immortality,

These contradictory deeds puzzle me.

He bent his bow to shoot the monster whale 

Sweeping the sea with its enormous tail.

Its head and nose erect'd like mountains proud,

And water spouted like thunder and cloud.

Its dorsal fin might cover azure sky.

Could seamen find the Fairy Islands high?

The alchemist with maidens went to sea.

When could their galleys come back?We but see 

Buried in underworld,the ashes cold 

Of Emperor of Qin in coffin made of gold!

The Emperor of Qin (reigned 246-210 B.C.sent an alchemist to sea to seek for elixir of immortality in the Fairy Islands.The alchemist reported that a monster was barring the seaway and the Emperor shot dead a giant whale.

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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