Autumn Thoughts
- Poetry of Ma Zhiyuan


- Last updated: 2024-04-11 16:23:09

Autumn Thoughts by Ma Zhiyuan



English Translation

Over old trees wreathed with rotten vines fly evening crows;

Under a small bridge near a cottage a stream flows;

On ancient road in the west wind a lean horse goes.

Westward declines the sun; Far, far from home is the heartbroken one.

Ma Zhiyuan's sanqu poem "Autumn Thoughts" (秋思), composed to the metric pattern Tianjingsha (天淨沙), uses ten images in twenty-two monosyllables to preamble a state of emotion, and is considered as the penultimate[citation needed] piece in Chinese poetry to convey the typical Chinese male literati's melancholy during late autumn.

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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