Lament of a Peasant Woman Living in the South of the River
- Poetry of Su Shi


- Last updated: 2024-03-23 17:19:24

Lament of a Peasant Woman Living in the South of the River by Su Shi

















English Translation

To our sorrow the rice ripens so late this year, And soon we will see the frosty autumn wind blow.

Before the frosty wind the rain pours far and near, The sickles rust and on the rake's teeth mold will grow.

Can we bear to see golden stalks flat in mud deep?

Though we weep our eyes dry, yet the rain never stops.

In a straw shelter by the fields one month we sleep, Once it clears, our cart comes back loaded with our crops.

Sweaty, we carry them on our shoulders chafed red To the market where at the price of chaff they' re sold.

To pay the tax we sell the ox and pull down the shed For fuel and next year's hunger can be foretold.

In cash instead of in kind the tax should be paid So that tribesmen be bought o' er on northwest frontier.

The peasants suffer more for wise reforms just made, They would rather be drowned than live in such a year.


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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