Song on the River
- Poetry of Li Bai (Li Po)


- Last updated: 2024-05-04 23:43:08

Song on the River by Li Bai (Li Po)







English Translation

In a ship of spice-wood with unsinkable oars,

Musicians at both ends,we drift along the shores.

We have sweet wine with singing girls to drink our fill,

And so the waves may carry us where'er they will.

Immortals could not fly without their yellow crane;

Unselfish men might follow white gulls to the main.

The verse of Qu Ping shines as bright as sun and moon,

While palaces of Chu vanish like dreams at noon.

Seeing my pen in verve,even the mountains shake;

Hearing my laughter proud,the seaside hermits wake.

If worldly fame and wealth were things to last forever,

Then northwestward would turn the eastward-flowing river.

Qu Yuan(340-270 B.C.)was a loyal minister and great poet in the state of Chu.

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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