A Spring Morning
- Poetry of Meng Haoran

《春晓》

- Last updated: 2024-04-16 19:01:12

A Spring Morning by Meng Haoran
中文原文
Simplified Chinese Version

春眠不觉晓,处处闻啼鸟。

夜来风雨声,花落知多少。


Traditional Chinese Version

春眠不覺曉, 處處聞啼鳥。

夜來風雨聲, 花落知多少。

A Spring Morning

English Translation

I awake light-hearted this morning of spring,

Everywhere round me the singing of birds --

But now I remember the night, the storm,

And I wonder how many blossoms were broken.

Five-character-quatrain

Meng Haoran’s poems often depict quiet, solitary sceneries that stem from living his first forty years in relative isolation from the rest of society. Due to his reclusive lifestyle, he spent much of his time observing the natural world surrounding him. In this particular poem, he builds upon his observation of the natural balance of nature: every pleasant aspect of nature is accompanied by its bleak counterpart. The first two lines paint a bright spring morning filled with blooming life and the chirping of birds; however, the third line darkens this image with the reference to the shadowy night, where the sound of the heavy rain and wind replaces that of the singing birds. Furthermore, the flourishing life mentioned in the first half of the poem, inferred from the lively songs of the birds, juxtaposes the decaying life — the fallen blossoms — in the latter portion of the poem. The fact that Meng offsets positive and negative forces demonstrates his belief that there are two sides to every situation.

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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