Nan Ge Zi – Mourning the Dead
- Poetry of Li Qingzhao


- Last updated: 2024-03-20 23:40:35

Nan Ge Zi – Mourning the Dead by Li Qingzhao







English Translation

Up in the heavens, the starry river turns;

Down here on earth, curtains, drapes hang low.

The air chilling, my tears dripping, dousing my mat and pillow;

I rise to disrobe my silken o'erclothes, and idly wonder

How old the night has grown.

‘Tis a robe of small lotus-pods, patched on in green,

And a few leaves of the lotus, gilt-threaded, yellowed.

The same seasonal clime of old time, the selfsame old-time robe;

Only my sentiments aren't quite the same, as those I'd known    

In our days in time of old.

By Li Qingzhao

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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