- Poetry of Li Shangyin


- Last updated: 2024-05-15 10:57:00

Jiasheng by Li Shangyin



English Translation

When the Emperor sought guidance from wise men, from exiles,

He found no calmer wisdom than that of young Jia

And assigned him the foremost council-seat at midnight,

Yet asked him about gods, instead of about people.


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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