To One Unnamed
- Poetry of Li Shangyin


- Last updated: 2024-03-22 20:11:26

To One Unnamed by Li Shangyin





English Translation

The stars of last night and the wind of last night

Are west of the Painted Chamber and east of Cinnamon Hall.

...Though I have for my body no wings like those of the brightcoloured phoenix,

Yet I feel the harmonious heart-beat of the Sacred Unicorn.

Across the spring-wine, while it warms me, I prompt you how to bet

Where, group by group, we are throwing dice in the light of a crimson lamp;

Till the rolling of a drum, alas, calls me to my duties

And I mount my horse and ride away, like a water-plant cut adrift.


· PreThe Inlaid Harp
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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