On the western Tower of Jinling
- Poetry of Li Bai (Li Po)


- Last updated: 2024-03-20 14:33:42

On the western Tower of Jinling by Li Bai (Li Po)





English Translation

The cool breeze blows on silent night in Town of Stone,

To view the south I mount the high tower alone.

White clouds and city walls mirrored on ripples swoon;

Dewdrops look like pearls dripping from the autumn moon.

Crooning long, I won't go back, drowned in moonrays;

How few are connoisseurs in my eyes since olden days!

Seeing the river crystal-clear and silver-white,

How I miss the unforgettable poet bright!

The poet gives free rein to his imagination in describing the scenery of Jinling or the Town of Stone: clouds could swoon, pearls could drip from the moon, and the poet could be drowned in moonlight. The unforgettable poet refers to Xie Tiao (464-499).

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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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