Life and Death
- Poetry of Li Bai (Li Po)


- Last updated: 2024-03-24 16:41:21

Life and Death by Li Bai (Li Po)






English Translation

The living are but passers-by,

And those are going home who die.

The sky and earth are hotels just 

For all to grieve over age-old dust.

The Moon Goddess lives long in vain;

The sacred tree's cut down with pain.

The bleached bones can nor speak nor sing.

Could green pines feel the warmth of spring?

Ancestors and posterity,

Don't prize but sigh for vanity!

This is a philosophical poem in which the poet equalizes life and death,imagines the sacred tree cut down,from which rose the sun,and sighs for the vanity of man.

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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