Sheng Sheng Man [*O search, I search, and seek, I seek]
- Poetry of Li Qingzhao


- Last updated: 2023-12-21 19:55:15

Sheng Sheng Man  [*O search, I search, and seek, I seek] by Li Qingzhao









English Translation

O search, I search and seek, I seek;

Yet cold, so cold, alone, all lonely;

O sad, I’m sad and down, I’m down--- O bleak, so bleak!

At this a time when the clime, oft sudden, from warm turns chilly,

‘Tis hardest to tend to my poor physique.

How could a three-or-twosome bowls or cups of wine

Ever withstand the gusty winds that, by evening, upon me wreak?

Migrating geese fly past,

Aching, breaking my heart;

Sweet old friends of mine they were, they now, just squeak.

On the ground, yellow chrysanthemum petals pile thick,

All weary, worn and waned;

By now, O what of flowers are left for me to pick?

Watching by the window, alone---

O how I wish the hour of darkness: come soon, come quick!

The phoenix tree, drenched now in fine mizzling drizzles,

'Tis evening, in tears, a-dripping: 

A time, O such as this,

How shall the one word ‘sorrow’ suffice, to bare a heart so sick?

This famous lyric depicts the loneliness of the poetess after the death of her husband.

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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