Two Lonely Isles in the Yangzi River - Written on a Picture Drawn by Li Sixun
- Poetry of Su Shi

《李思训画长江绝岛图》

- Last updated: 2023-12-19 12:44:55

Two Lonely Isles in the Yangzi River - Written on a Picture Drawn by Li Sixun by Su Shi
中文原文

山苍苍,水茫茫,大孤小孤江中央。

崖崩路绝猿鸟去⑶,惟有乔木搀天长。

客舟何处来,棹歌中流声抑扬。

沙平风软望不到,孤山久与船低昂。

峨峨两烟鬟,晓镜开新妆。

舟中贾客莫漫狂,小姑前年嫁彭郎。


English Translation

Below the mountains green 

Water runs till unseen;

In the midst of the stream two lonely isles stand high.

Fallen crags bar the way;

Birds and apes cannot stay;

Only the giant trees tower into the sky.

From where comes a sail white?

In mid-stream rises oarsmen's undulating song.

Sand bar is flat,the wind is weak,no boat in sight,

The Lonely Isles sink and swim with the sail for long,

Like mist-veiled tresses of a pretty lass 

Using the river as her looking glass.

O merchant in the boat,don't go mad for the fair!

The Lonely Isle and Gallant Hill are a well-matched pair.

The legend went that the God of Gallant Hill and the Goddess of the Lonely Isles were man and wife.

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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