Rain at the Cold-food Festival
- Poetry of Su Shi


- Last updated: 2023-12-24 10:40:11

Rain at the Cold-food Festival by Su Shi















English Translation

Since I came to Huangzhou,I've passed

Three Cold-food days devot'd to fast.

Each year I wish fair spring to stay,

But spring will go without delay.

This year again we suffer from rains,

For two months dreary autumn reigns.

Lying in bed,I smell crab-Apple flowers,

Upon whose rouge and snow mud showers.

The rouge has taken stealthy flight,

Borne away by the Strong at midnight.

The snow is like a sick youth's head

Turning white when he's up from his bed.

Spring flood is coming up to my gate,

My small cot looks like a fishing boat.

The pouring rain will not abate,

My cot on misty waves wiil float.

I cook food in a kitchen in decay

And burn wet reeds in a cracked stove.

Who can tell'tis the Cold-food day

But for the money-paper burned above?

The royal palace has gate on gate;

My household graves far away lie.

At the road's end I'd lament my fate,

But dead ashes blown up cannot fly.

The Cold-food Festival marked the end of the three-day period when families refrained from starting cooking-fires at home.It was also the season when Chinese families visited their ancestral burial mounds.Hence,the reference in the second poem to money paper,which was usually burned on such occasions.

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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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