Song of a Fair Lady
- Poetry of Su Shi


- Last updated: 2024-03-23 14:28:39

Song of a Fair Lady by Su Shi










English Translation

I saw an excellent picture drawn by Zhou Fan of a yawning lady singer viewed from the back,and I wrote this poem in joke as a companion poem of Du Fu's.

In the lonely deep palace the spring days were long.

North of the Fragrance Pavilion flowers smelt sweet.

The lightly-dressed fair lady got up at the song 

Of orioles,her heart broke to see swallows fleet.

The painter tried to retain her infinite charm 

And paint'd her back when,awake,she stood in the east wind.

If she turned her head with a smile,she would disarm 

A besieging army,however disciplined.

The hungry poet Du Fu with a longing eye,

In shabby hat and on lame ass,followed a horse.

Sometime across the flowery stream he passed by,

He saw but from the back her slender waist and torse.

Fascinated,he came back to his thatched cot,

And then believed on earth there was a lady fair.

Don't you know man and wife were happy with their lot?

Why should she turn her back and weep with a love-sick air?

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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