Flowering Branches Written on Paintings by Secretary Wang of Yanling
- Poetry of Su Shi


- Last updated: 2024-01-06 20:39:08

Flowering Branches Written on Paintings by Secretary Wang of Yanling by Su Shi















English Translation

To overstress resemblance of form 

In painting is a childish view.

Who thinks in verse there is a norm,

To poetry he's got no clew.

In painting as in poetry,

We like what's natural and new.

Bian Luan painted birds vividly;

Zhao Chang's flowers to nature were true.

But these two pictures surpass them:

They're fairer and more elaborate.

We won't believe from a red stem 

The beauty of spring can radiate.

Slender bamboos look like recluse;

Like maidens blossom lonely flowers.

Birds bend the branch which they let loose,

And shaken flowers fall in showers.

They flap their wings and up they fly,

And stir all the leaves of the trees.

With nectar gathered on the thigh,

Busy are the laborious bees.

This painter has a gift for art,

His brush preserves the beauty of spring.

I think he is a poet at heart,

And wait for a reply this verse will bring.


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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