Calming the Waves
- Poetry of Su Shi


- Last updated: 2024-03-24 17:37:58

Calming the Waves by Su Shi






English Translation

On the 7th day of the 3rd month we were caught in rain on our way to the Sandy Lake.The umbrellas had gone ahead,my companions were quite downhearted,but I took no notice.It soon cleared,and I wrote this.

Listen not to the rain beating against the trees.

Why don't you slowly walk and chant at ease?

Better than a saddle I like sandals and cane.

I'd fain,

In a straw cloak,spend my life in mist and rain.

Drunken,I am sobered by the vernal wind shrill 

And rather chill.

In front,I see the slanting sun atop the hill;

Turning my head,I see the dreary beaten track.

Let me go back!

Impervious to rain or shine,I'll have my own will.

Su Shi wrote this lyric on his way back from the Sandy Lake,15kms to the east of Huangzhou where he had been banished since 1080.

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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