Getting up at Night While in a Boat
- Poetry of Su Shi


- Last updated: 2024-03-23 14:27:14

Getting up at Night While in a Boat by Su Shi



夜深人物不相管, 我独形影相嬉娱。


此生忽忽忧患里, 清境过眼能须臾。


English Translation

I take for rain the breeze which rustles through the reed,

Opening the hatch,I find a lake full of moonbeams.

Boatmen and waterbirds share alike the same dreams;

Like scurrying foxes,startled fish away speed.

Man and nature forget each other when night is deep,

Playing alone with my shadow amuses me.

The setting moon like spider hangs from willow tree;

Dark tides creeping over the flats for earthworms weep.

Our life laden with care and spent in worry fleets,

A pure vision before the eyes cannot last long.

Flocks of birds scatter at ringing bells and cock's song,

You'll hear from the prow but boatmen's shout and drumbeats.

Written when the poet was en route to a new post as magistrate of Huzhou in Zhejiang north of Hangzhou.

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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