Fragrance of Laurel Branch - Memories of the Past at Jinling
- Poetry of Wang Anshi


- Last updated: 2024-03-22 20:55:00

Fragrance of Laurel Branch - Memories of the Past at Jinling by Wang Anshi









English Translation

I climb a height 

And strain my sight,

Of autumn late tis the best time:

The ancient capital looks sublime!

The limpid River,belt like,flows a thousand miles;

Emerald peaks on peaks tower in grandiose styles.

In the declining sun sails come and go;

In west wind wineshop flags fly high and low.

The painted boat 

In clouds afloat,

Like stars in Milky Way white egrets fly 

What a picture before the eye!

In days gone by,

For opulence people did vie.

Alas!shame came on shame beneath the walls,

In palace halls.

Against the rails,in vain I call 

O'er ancient kingdoms'rise and fall.

The running water saw Six Dynasties pass;

But I see only chilly mist and withered grass 

E'en now the songstresses still sing 

The songs composed by captive king.

Wang Anshi (1021-1086)was the premier who carried out reforms under the reign of Emperor Song Shen Zong (reigned 1067-1085).This poem describes in the first stanza the scenic splendor of Jinling (presentday Nanjing),ancient capital of Six Dynasties (221-280;317-589).In the second stanza the poet expresses his feeling on thinking of the captive king who was making merry with his dames in the palace hall while the enemy forces came under the walls of his capital.

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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