To Son
- Poetry of Lu You


- Last updated: 2024-06-11 14:27:26

To Son by Lu You



English Translation

All turns to dust in my dying eyes,

only hatred is that a unified land is not seen.

When the day of the emperor's troops sweeping the North comes,

you must not forget to tell me before my tombstone.

This poem was composed by Lu You when he was about to die.

What this poem means is that he does not mind not being able to take anything with him when he dies, but he is upset to see that China is still not united as a nation. He is telling his son that if this day ever comes, his family must not forget to go to his grave and tell him there.

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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