Drinking to the Moon on the River
- Poetry of Wen Tianxiang


- Last updated: 2024-04-11 16:30:44

Drinking to the Moon on the River by Wen Tianxiang



English Translation

Immense is the universe.

Could dragons be imprisoned in pools so small?

How can we stay in wind and rain,

In grief and pain?

How can we bear

Cold crickets' chirp at the foot of the wall?

Where is the hero, spear in hand, crooning his verse?

And where's the talents' owner? All

Has vanished like snow in the air.

Seeing the river

Running forever,

We need not fear

No hero would appear.

Alas! Like wafting leaves, you and I,

We come again to River Huai,

When the cold breeze begins to blow.

In the mirror we find a face aged in woe,

But still unchanged is our loyal heart.

Now for the northern desert we start;

Turning our head,

We see a hairlike stretch of land outspread.

If my old friend should think of me.

Listen to the wailing cuckoo on the moonlit tree!

By Wen Tianxiang

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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