Song of Crush That Enemy Line
- Poetry of Li Yu


- Last updated: 2024-03-16 15:29:08

Song of Crush That Enemy Line by Li Yu





English Translation

E’er since for forty years, this land: my home, my country;

A realm of a thousand miles of a mountained, rivered terrain.

Grand palatial towers and chambers, rise high to meet the skies;

Jade green leaves on boughs and branches, vines in a misty veil.

When did I know of battle shields and blades?

Now that I’m made a subject, a lord in name, a captive;   

Thinned waist, hoary temples: O how I’m wasting away!

And worst at the shrine on parting day, hurried-worried despite,

Court musicians still remained, just parting songs were played.

O tears I rolled before the palace maids.

Li Yu (937-978)was the last ruler of the Southern Tang.In 975,his capital fell and he himself was taken captive.In his captivity he wrote many of his best lyrics which represent the highest achievement of the lyric poets of that period.In this lyric we find a sharp contrast between the past in the first stanza and the present in the second.

Translated by Andrew W.F. Wong (Huang Hongfa)

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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