Charm of a Maiden Singer-Memories of the Past at Red Cliff
- Poetry of Su Shi

《念奴娇·赤壁怀古》

- Last updated: 2024-03-23 14:22:31

Charm of a Maiden Singer-Memories of the Past at Red Cliff by Su Shi
中文原文

大江东去,浪淘尽,千古风流人物。

故垒西边,人道是:三国周郎赤壁。

乱石崩云,惊涛裂岸,卷起千堆雪。

江山如画,一时多少豪杰。

遥想公瑾当年,小乔初嫁了,雄姿英发。

羽扇纶巾,谈笑间、强虏灰飞烟灭。

故国神游,多情应笑我,早生华发。

人间如梦,一尊还酹江月。


English Translation

The Great River eastward flows,

With its waves are gone all those 

Gallant heroes of bygone years.

West of the ancient fortress appears

The Red Cliff.Here General Zhou won his early fame 

When the Three Kingdoms were all in flame.

Jagged rocks tower in the air,

Swashing waves beat on the shore,

Rolling up a thousand heaps of snow.

To match the hills and the river so fair,

How many heroes brave of yore 

Made a great show!

I fancy General Zhou at the height 

Of his success,with a plume fan in hand,

In a silk hood,so brave and bright,

Laughing and jesting with his bride so fair,

While enemy ships were destroyed as planned 

Like shadowy castles in the air.

Should their souls revisit this land,

Sentimental,his wife would laugh to say,

Younger than they,I have my hair all turned gray.

Life is but like a passing dream,

I'd drink to the moon which once saw them on the stream.

This is Su Shi's famous lyric written at Red Cliff where General Zhou Yu defeated the enemy advancing forces in A.D.208.

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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