Song of a Fair Lady
- Poetry of Su Shi

《续丽人行(并引)》

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

Song of a Fair Lady by Su Shi
中文原文

李仲谋家有周昉画背面欠伸内人,极精,戏作此诗。

深宫无人春日长,沉香亭北百花香。

美人睡起薄梳洗,燕舞莺啼空断肠。

画工欲画无穷意,前立东风初破睡。

若教回首却嫣然,阳城下蔡俱风靡。

杜陵饥客眼长寒,蹇驴破帽随金鞍。

隔花临水时一见,只许腰肢背后看。

心醉归来茅屋底,方信人间有西子。

君不见孟光举案与眉齐,何曾背面伤春啼。


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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