To Buddhist Priest Yuan From Chang'an
- Poetry of Meng Haoran

《秦中感秋寄远上人 / 秦中寄远上人》

- Last updated: 2024-04-27 16:27:31

To Buddhist Priest Yuan From Chang'an by Meng Haoran
Simplified Chinese Version





Traditional Chinese Version

一丘嘗欲臥, 三徑苦無資。

北土非吾願, 東林懷我師。

黃金燃桂盡, 壯志逐年衰。

日夕涼風至, 聞蟬但益悲。

English Translation

How gladly I would seek a mountain

If I had enough means to live as a recluse!

For I turn at last from serving the State

To the Eastern Woods Temple and to you, my master.

...Like ashes of gold in a cinnamon-flame,

My youthful desires have been burnt with the years-

And tonight in the chilling sunset-wind

A cicada, singing, weighs on my heart.


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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