Visiting in Winter the Two Learned Monks in the Lonely Hill
- Poetry of Su Shi


- Last updated: 2024-03-22 18:23:11

Visiting in Winter the Two Learned Monks in the Lonely Hill by Su Shi











English Translation

It seems that snow will fall On a cloud-covered lake, Hills loom and fade, towers appear and disappear.

Fish can be count'd among the rocks in water clear; Birds call back and forth in the deep woods men forsake.

I cannot go home on this lonely winter day, So I visit the monks to while my time away.

Who can show me the way which leads to their door-sill?

Follow the winding path to the foot of the hill.

The Lonely Hill is so lonesome. Who will dwell there?

Strong in faith, there's no loneliness but they can bear.

Paper windows keep them warm in bamboo cottage deep; 

Sitting in their coarse robes, on round rush mats they sleep.

My lackeys grumble at cold weather and long road, They hurry me to go before dusk to my abode.

Leaving the hill,I look back and see woods and cloud Mingled and wild birds circling the pagoda proud.

This trip has not tired me but left an aftertaste, Come back,I seem to see in dreams the scene retraced.

I hasten to write down in verse what I saw then, For the scene lost to sight can't be revived again.


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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