Lament for a Peasant Household
- Poetry of Lu You


- Last updated: 2024-04-12 09:30:33

Lament for a Peasant Household by Lu You









English Translation

He has sown every slope with wheat,

Sown every stream with paddy,

His oxen's necks are rubbed raw to the bone,

Yet still at night he goads them on to plough.

His last ounce of strength goes into farming,

And all he asks is to be left in peace;

But who is this knocking at his door?

The county officer clamoring for taxes!

He is haled to the county court,

Bastinadoed day and night;

All men dread death,

But he sees no way out...

Home again he longs to tell his wrongs,

Yet shrinks from upsetting his parents,

For to provide the two old folk with food,

His ready to sacrifice his wife and son.

By Lu You

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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