Watching the Tidal Bore
- Poetry of Liu Yong

《望海潮·东南形胜》

- Last updated: 2024-03-22 20:53:09

Watching the Tidal Bore by Liu Yong
中文原文

东南形胜,三吴都会,钱塘自古繁华。

烟柳画桥,风帘翠幕,参差十万人家。

云树绕堤沙,怒涛卷霜雪,天堑无涯。

市列珠玑,户盈罗绮竞豪奢。


重湖叠瓛清嘉,有三秋桂子,十里荷花。

羌管弄晴,菱歌泛夜,嬉嬉钓叟莲娃。

千骑拥高牙,乘醉听箫鼓,吟赏烟霞。

异日图将好景,归去凤池夸。


English Translation

Scenic splendor to the southeast of River Blue 

And capital of ancient Kingdom Wu,

Qiantang's as flourishing as e'er.

Smoke-like willows form a wind-proof screen,

Adorned with painted bridges and curtains green,

A hundred thousand houses stand here and there.

Upon the banks along the sand,

Cloud-crowned trees stand.

Great waves roll up like snow banks white,

The river extends till it's lost to sight.

Jewels and pearls at the Fair on display,

Satins and silks in splendid array,

People vie in magnificence 

And opulence.


Lake on lake reflects peak on peak which towers,

Late autumn fragrant with osmanthus flowers,

Lotus in full bloom for miles and miles.

Northwestern pipes play with sunlight,

Water chestnut songs are sung by starlight,

Old fishermen and maidens young all beam with smiles.

With flags before and guards behind you come,

Drunken,you may listen to flute and drum,

Chanting praises loud

Of the land 'neath the cloud.

You may picture the fair scene another day 

And boast to the Court where you're in proud array.

This poem dedicated to the governor of Qiantang (present-day Hangzhou and ancient capital of Kingdom Wu to the southeast of the River Blue or the Yangzi River)describes so well the scenic beauties of the city and its West Lake that it was said to have tempted the chief tain of the Jurchen invaders to cross the Yangzi River.

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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