A Message From Lake Dongtin to Premier Zhang
- Poetry of Meng Haoran

《望洞庭湖赠张丞相》

- Last updated: 2024-04-26 16:46:18

A Message From Lake Dongtin to Premier Zhang by Meng Haoran
中文原文

八月湖水平,涵虚混太清。

气蒸云梦泽,波撼岳阳城。

欲济无舟楫,端居耻圣明。

坐观垂钓者,空有羡鱼情。


English Translation

Here in the Eighth-month the waters of the lake

Are of a single air with heaven,

And a mist from the Yun and Meng valleys

Has beleaguered the city of Youzhou.

I should like to cross, but I can find no boat.

...How ashamed I am to be idler than you statesmen,

As I sit here and watch a fisherman casting

And emptily envy him his catch.

Five-character-regular-verse

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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