Sorrow of Separation
- Poetry of Li Bai (Li Po)


- Last updated: 2024-03-24 16:39:45

Sorrow of Separation by Li Bai (Li Po)









English Translation

Severed for aye

From the two princesses of ancient day,

Emperor Shun was buried south of the lake,

Where the two rivers meet awake,

And flow for miles and miles into the sea.

From the sorrow of separation who is free?

The sun is gloomy,veiled by dark cloud;

In mist and rain the monkeys wail and ghosts cry loud.

Of what avail is all that I say?

The Royal Dome knows not my loyalty;

Its thunder roars against me.

Even emperors to successors should give way.

When the king's not supported,the dragon turns into fish;

The rats in power become tigers as they wish.

Emperor Yao was put in jail;

Emperor Shun died in the field to no avail.

Alike the Nine Mysterious Peaks loom.

Where to find Emperor Shun's lonely tomb?

The princesses wept among the cloud green;

They're gone with the wind and waves,unseen.

They gazed from afar and shed tears;

Now only the deep green mountain appears.

Only when mountains crumble and rivers go dry 

Would the tear-specked bamboos vanish from the eye.

The legend goes that the two princesses were daughters of Emperor Yao and wives of Emperor Shun who died by the side of Dongting Lake and were buried at the foot of the Nine Mysterious Peaks.The princesses wept over the death of Emperor Shun and their tears specked the bamboos.

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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