Written to Ziyou in Joke
- Poetry of Su Shi


- Last updated: 2024-03-23 17:21:00

Written to Ziyou in Joke by Su Shi









English Translation

My brother's tall as Confucius is said to be, But his room in the schoolhouse looks like a boat small.

He bends his head while reading classics and history, Suddenly he yawns, his head bumps against the wall.

The wind blows screens aside and raindrops into his face, The onlookers feel sorry but he does not care.

The starving may be jeered at by well-fed men base, He won't beg for shelter though rain drenches his hair.

He cares not for the discomforts before the eye, If he can let his six spirits soar in the sky.

He's read ten thousand books without reading the law.

How could he serve a sovereign without a flaw!

The inspectors of agriculture come in throng, Honey-like vegetables are given to the old.

Nothing at the door will remain in his eyes for long, Though his head oft bends low, his spirit is still bold.

Official of Hangzhou,I' ve done no worthy deed, My painted hall is so large that flags can be displayed.

My mansion stands high and from noise of rain is freed


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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