Water Dragon's Chant-Willow Catkins
- Poetry of Su Shi


- Last updated: 2024-01-06 20:40:17

Water Dragon's Chant-Willow Catkins by Su Shi









English Translation

After Zhang Zhifu's lyric on willow catkins,using the same rhym-ing words.

They seem to be and not to be flowers,

None pity them when they fall in showers.

Deserting home,

By the roadside they roam;

I think they have no feeling to impart,

But they must have thoughts deep.

Grief numbs their tender heart,

Their wistful eyes heavy with sleep,About to open,yet closed again.

They dream of going with the wind for long,

Long miles to find a tender-hearted man,

But are aroused by the orioles'song.

I do not grieve willow catkins have flown away,

But that in Western Garden the fallen red 

Cannot be gathered.When dawns the day 

And rain is o'er,we cannot find their traces 

But a pond with broken duckweeds o'erspread.

Of spring's three graces,

Two have gone with the roadside dust,

And one with the waves.If you just 

Take a close look,you will never 

Find catkins but tears of those who sever,

Which drop by drop 

Fall without stop.

Su Dongpo's own note reads,"It is said that when willow catkins fall into the water,they turn into duckweeds.I have tested it and found it true."

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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