Immortal at the River-Returning to Lingao by Night
- Poetry of Su Shi


- Last updated: 2024-03-23 14:21:50

Immortal at the River-Returning to Lingao by Night by Su Shi







English Translation

Drinking at Eastern Slope by night,

I sober,then get drunk again.

When I come back,it's near midnight.

I hear the thunder of my houseboy's snore,

I knock but no one answers at my door.

What can I do but,leaning on my cane,

Listen to the river's refrain?

I long regret I am not master of my own.

When can I just ignore the hums of up and down?

In the still night the soft winds quiver 

On the ripples of the river.

From now on,I would vanish with my little boat,

For the rest of my life,on the sea I would float.

Because of the last two lines,it is said,a rumor spread around that the poet had actually gotten into a boat in the night and disappeared.The governor of Huangzhou,who was responsible for seeing that Su Shi did not leave the district,rushed in alarm to the poet's house,to find him in bed snoring.Word of his supposed escape even reached Emperor Song Shen Zong in the capital.

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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