Reading Buddhist Classics With Zhao at His Temple in the Early Morning
- Poetry of Liu Zongyuan


- Last updated: 2024-04-21 10:19:28

Reading Buddhist Classics With Zhao at His Temple in the Early Morning by Liu Zongyuan








English Translation

I clean my teeth in water drawn from a cold well;

And while I brush my clothes, I purify my mind;

Then, slowly turning pages in the Tree-Leaf Book,

I recite, along the path to the eastern shelter.

...The world has forgotten the true fountain of this teaching

And people enslave themselves to miracles and fables.

Under the given words I want the essential meaning,

I look for the simplest way to sow and reap my nature.

Here in the quiet of the priest's templecourtyard,

Mosses add their climbing colour to the thick bamboo;

And now comes the sun, out of mist and fog,

And pines that seem to be new-bathed;

And everything is gone from me, speech goes, and reading,

Leaving the single unison.


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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