Thoughts in the Silent Night
- Poetry of Li Bai (Li Po)

《静夜思》

- Last updated: 2024-02-23 19:03:39

Thoughts in the Silent Night by Li Bai (Li Po)
中文原文
Simplified Chinese Version

床前明月光,疑是地上霜。

举头望明月,低头思故乡。

Traditional Chinese Version

床前明月光, 疑是地上霜。

舉頭望明月, 低頭思故鄉。

Thoughts in the Silent Night

English Translation

So bright a gleam on the foot of my bed --

Could there have been a frost already?

Lifting myself to look, I found that it was moonlight.

Sinking back again, I thought suddenly of home.

Five-character-quatrain

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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