A Cicada
- Poetry of Li Shangyin

《蝉》

- Last updated: 2024-03-22 20:20:06

A Cicada by Li Shangyin
中文原文

本以高难饱,徒劳恨费声。

五更疏欲断,一树碧无情。

薄宦梗犹泛,故园芜已平。

烦君最相警,我亦举家清。


English Translation

Pure of heart and therefore hungry,

All night long you have sung in vain --

Oh, this final broken indrawn breath

Among the green indifferent trees!

Yes, I have gone like a piece of driftwood,

I have let my garden fill with weeds....

I bless you for your true advice

To live as pure a life as yours.

Five-character-regular-verse

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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