Prelude to the KongHou of Li Ping
- Poetry of Li He


- Last updated: 2024-04-10 15:20:24

Prelude to the KongHou of Li Ping by Li He








English Translation

Silk of Wu, wutong of Shu and the expanse of autumn high,

Hollow mountains, frozen clouds and stunted water flow.

Jiang E weeps over bamboos, and Su Nü groans,

Li Ping, in central China, is playing the Konghou.

Jade shatters on Kunlun Mountains, and phoenixes shriek,

Lotuses crying dews, and scented orchids smile,

In front of the twelve gates, the icy light thaws.

Twenty-three strings enthuse the Purple Emperor.

Where Nüwa tempers stones to repair the sky,

The stones break, Heaven in shock, and tickle the autumn rain.

Dreaming of entering the Fairy Mount to instruct the Fairy Mom,

Old fish jumping waves, and wiry dragons dancing round.

Wu Zhi, unable to sleep, leans rapt against the osmanthus tree.

The legs of dew, with side-kicks, wet the rabbit cold.

By Li He

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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