- Poetry of Modern Chinese poetry


- Last updated: 2024-03-31 22:41:09

Farewell by Modern Chinese poetry





English Translation

The pavilion’s side, Where the old road lies,

Sweet grass, so blue, they touch the skies.

Eve winds kiss willows, the pipe’s waning trills, 

The sun sets over hills and hills.

The verge of the skies, Lands’ end or beyond,

Dear friends half scattered, withered, gone.

A ladle of rough wine, what’s left of joy, we drain;

Parted, tonight, lorn dreams in vain.

This poem by Li Shutong 李叔同 (1880-1942) was written as lyrics to the melody of the 1851 American song “Dreaming of Home and Mother” (published 1868), music and lyrics both written by John P. ordway (1824-1880).

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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