Reflections (Song of Pilgrimage)
- Poetry of Su Shi


- Last updated: 2024-03-23 17:13:54

Reflections (Song of Pilgrimage) by Su Shi









English Translation

Stainless in the clear night;

The moon is silver bright.

Fill my wine cup

Till it brims up!

Why toil with pain

For wealth and fame in vain?

Time flies as a steed white

Passes a gap in flight.

Like a spark in the dark

Or a dream of moonbeam.

Though I can write,

Who thinks I'm right?

why not enjoy

Like a mere boy?

So I would be

A man carefree.

I would be mute before my lute;

Fine before wine;

And proud as cloud.

The poet compares time to a steed, a spark, a dream, and woud be free, mute and proud.

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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