The Temple of Su Wu
- Poetry of Wen Tingyun

《苏武庙》

- Last updated: 2024-05-10 21:10:55

The Temple of Su Wu by Wen Tingyun
中文原文

苏武魂销汉使前,古祠高树两茫然。

云边雁断胡天月,陇上羊归塞草烟。

回日楼台非甲帐,去时冠剑是丁年。

茂陵不见封侯印,空向秋波哭逝川。


English Translation

Though our envoy, Su Wu, is gone, body and soul,

This temple survives, these trees endure....

Wildgeese through the clouds are still calling to the moon there

And hill-sheep unshepherded graze along the border.

...Returning, he found his country changed

Since with youthful cap and sword he had left it.

His bitter adventures had won him no title....

Autumn-waves endlessly sob in the river.

Seven-character-regular-verse

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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