Thoughts of Old Time on the Chu River
- Poetry of Ma Dai


- Last updated: 2024-05-05 18:15:56

Thoughts of Old Time on the Chu River by Ma Dai





English Translation

A cold light shines on the gathering dew,

As sunset fades beyond the southern mountains;

Trees echo with monkeys on the banks of Lake Dongting,

Where somebody is moving in an orchid-wood boat.

Marsh-lands are swollen wide with the moon,

While torrents are bent to the mountains' will;

And the vanished Queens of the Clouds leave me

Sad with autumn all night long.


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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