Thoughts of Old Time at West Fort Mountain
- Poetry of Liu Yuxi

《西塞山怀古》

- Last updated: 2024-05-09 11:31:00

Thoughts of Old Time at West Fort Mountain by Liu Yuxi
中文原文

王濬楼船下益州,金陵王气黯然收。

千寻铁锁沉江底,一片降幡出石头。

人世几回伤往事?山形依旧枕寒流。

从今四海为家日,故垒萧萧芦荻秋。


English Translation

Since Wang Jun brought his towering ships down from Yizhou,

The royal ghost has pined in the city of Nanjing.

Ten thousand feet of iron chain were sunk here to the bottom --

And then came the flag of surrender on the Wall of Stone....

Cycles of change have moved into the past,

While still this mountain dignity has commanded the cold river;

And now comes the day of the Chinese world united,

And the old forts fill with ruin and with autumn reeds.

Seven-character-regular-verse

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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