Dreaming of the South
- Poetry of Wen Tingyun

《望江南·梳洗罢》

- Last updated: 2024-03-21 19:57:21

Dreaming of the South by Wen Tingyun
中文原文

梳洗罢,独倚望江楼。

过尽千帆皆不是,斜晖脉脉水悠悠。

肠断白蘋洲。


English Translation

After dressing my hair,

I alone climb the stair.

On the railings I lean,

To view the river scene.

Many sails pass me by,

But not the one for which wait l.

The slanting sun sheds a sympathetic ray,

The carefree river carries it away.

My heart breaks at the sight

Of the islet with duckweed white.

Wen Tingyun (813-870) was traditionally regarded as the first major lyricist.His lyrics are richly embellished and full of implicit meaning,but this poem simply narrates in the folk-song manner the sorrow of a young woman who,gazing on the river and the islet where people used to bid farewell,is waiting all day long for the return of her husband.

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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