The Hard Road
- Poetry of Li Bai (Li Po)

《行路難之一》

- Last updated: 2024-03-20 14:13:52

The Hard Road by Li Bai (Li Po)
中文原文

金樽清酒斗十千,玉盘珍羞直万钱。

停杯投箸不能食,拔剑四顾心茫然。

闲来垂钓碧溪上,忽复乘舟梦日边。

行路难,行路难;多岐路,今安在?

长风破浪会有时,直挂云帆济沧海。


English Translation

Pure wine costs, for the golden cup, ten thousand coppers a flagon,

And a jade plate of dainty food calls for a million coins.

I fling aside my food-sticks and cup, I cannot eat nor drink....

I pull out my dagger, I peer four ways in vain.

I would cross the Yellow River, but ice chokes the ferry;

I would climb the Taihang Mountains, but the sky is blind with snow....

I would sit and poise a fishing-pole, lazy by a brook --

But I suddenly dream of riding a boat, sailing for the sun....

Journeying is hard,

Journeying is hard.

There are many turnings --

Which am I to follow?....

I will mount a long wind some day and break the heavy waves

And set my cloudy sail straight and bridge the deep, deep sea.

Folk-song-styled-verse

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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