Hearing a Startled Bird During Stayover at Chin-Ch'ang Pavilion
- Poetry of Li Shangyin


- Last updated: 2024-04-12 14:31:37

Hearing a Startled Bird During Stayover at Chin-Ch'ang Pavilion by Li Shangyin





English Translation

Wayworn: wide sleepless yes. A night scene enters.

A high open window reveals a startled bird.

It flies to the meandering shore: smoke closes in.

It passes the South Pond: trees darken their depth.

Tartar horses neigh to the flutes of the Elm Pass.

Southland monkeys' howl mixes with the pound-and-wash.

Stray bird up on the tree: does it know its end?

Separated by sky's edge: we share this moment this heart.

By Li Shangyin

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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