Courtyard Full of Fragrance
- Poetry of Su Shi

《满庭芳·蜗角虚名》

- Last updated: 2023-12-31 16:56:09

Courtyard Full of Fragrance by Su Shi
中文原文

蜗角虚名,蝇头微利,算来著甚干忙。

事皆前定,谁弱又谁强。

且趁闲身未老,须放我、些子疏狂。

百年里,浑教是醉,三万六千场。


思量,能几许?

忧愁风雨,一半相妨。

又何须抵死,说短论长。

幸对清风皓月,苔茵展、云幕高张。

江南好,千钟美酒,一曲满庭芳。


English Translation

For fame as vain as a snail's horn 

And profit as slight as a fly's head,

Should I be busy and forlorn?

Fate rules for long,

Who is weak?Who is strong?

Not yet grown old and having leisure,

Let me be free to enjoy pleasure!

Could I be drunk in a hundred years,

Thirty-six hundred times without shedding tears?


Think how long life can last,

Though sad and harmful storms I've passed.

Why should I waste my breath 

Until my death,

To say the short and long 

Or right and wrong?

I am happy to enjoy clear breeze and the moon bright,

Green grass outspread

And a canopy of cloud white.

The Southern shore is fine 

With a thousand cups of wine

And the courtyard fragrant with song.

The poet talks about his attitude toward fame and wealth,his detached,transcenden-tal way of living.

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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