In the Camp of the Sketching Brush
- Poetry of Li Shangyin


- Last updated: 2024-03-22 22:20:59

In the Camp of the Sketching Brush by Li Shangyin

猿鳥猶疑畏簡書, 風雲常為護儲胥。

徒令上將揮神筆, 終見降王走傳車。

管樂有才原不忝, 關張無命欲何如?

他年錦里經祠廟, 梁父吟成恨有餘。

English Translation

Monkeys and birds are still alert for your orders

And winds and clouds eager to shield your fortress.

...You were master of the brush, and a sagacious general,

But your Emperor, defeated, rode the prison-cart.

You were abler than even the greatest Zhou statesmen,

Yet less fortunate than the two Shu generals who were killed in action.

And, though at your birth-place a temple has been built to you,

You never finished singing your Song of the Holy Mountain


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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