Stopping at a Friend's Farm-house
- Poetry of Meng Haoran


- Last updated: 2024-03-29 20:45:59

Stopping at a Friend's Farm-house by Meng Haoran





English Translation

Preparing me chicken and rice, old friend,

You entertain me at your farm.

We watch the green trees that circle your village

And the pale blue of outlying mountains.

We open your window over garden and field,

To talk mulberry and hemp with our cups in our hands.

...Wait till the Mountain Holiday --

I am coming again in chrysanthemum time.


Lighthearted and free-spirited, Meng’s poem describes the peaceful lifestyle of a rural farming village. He crafts simple words to create the image of a serene setting. First, he writes about the friendly invitation from his friend, revealing their close ties of friendship through 雞黍 (a big feast). The poet proceeds to describe the surrounding scenery as he nears the home, with 綠樹 (green trees) and 青山 (blue-green mountains) encompassing the 村 (town); by referring to vast landscapes, Meng portrays the free air and mobility of the village. He hopes to visit his friend again to observe chrysanthemum flowers, further highlighting the relaxed nature of this poet and his friend. This poem is considered a masterpiece of Tang dynasty pastoral poetry.

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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