Flowers by the Pathway
- Poetry of Su Shi

《陌上花(三首)》

- Last updated: 2024-03-23 17:11:04

Flowers by the Pathway by Su Shi
中文原文

游九仙山,闻里中儿歌《陌上花》,父老云:吴越玉妃每岁春必归临安,王以书遗妃,曰“陌上花开,可缓缓归矣”。吴人用其语为歌,含思宛转,听之凄然。而其词鄙野,为易之云:

其一

陌上花开蝴蝶飞,江山犹是昔人非。遗民几度垂垂老,游女长歌缓缓归。

其二

陌上山花无数开,路人争看翠軿来。若为留得堂堂去,且更从教缓缓回。

其三

生前富贵草头露,身后风流陌上花。已作迟迟君去鲁,犹教缓缓妾还家。


English Translation

On a visit to the Mountain of Nine Immortals,I heard the folksong "Flowers by the Pathway".It is said that the Queen of Wuyue went home to Lin'an every year when spring came.When the King of Wuyue surrendered to the Emperor of Song,he wrote a note to his wife,saying,"As flowers blossom by the pathway,now you may go home slowly. Ballad singers made a doleful melody for this note,which touched me to the heart.But the wording was indelicate,so I improved it.

Butterflies dance amid flowers by the pathway,

The land is still the same but men have passed away.

Survivors of old dynasties age by and by;

Fair maidens come back slowly, giving sigh for sigh.

Countless mountain flowers blossom by the pathway,

Passers-by throng to see the cab emerald-green.

If the King had gone in a dignified array,

The Queen should come slowly with a majestic mien.

Both wealth and rank will pass like the dew on the grass;

Beauty and charm will fade like flowers by the pathway.

It was late for the King to leave the land,alas!

Still we sing of the Queen slow on her homeward way.

By Su Shi

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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