To One Unnamed
- Poetry of Li Shangyin

《无题·昨夜星辰昨夜风》

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

To One Unnamed by Li Shangyin
中文原文

昨夜星辰昨夜风,画楼西畔桂堂东。

身无彩凤双飞翼,心有灵犀一点通。

隔座送钩春酒暖,分曹射覆蜡灯红。

嗟余听鼓应官去,走马兰台类转蓬。


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.

Seven-character-regular-verse

· 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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