The Highest Tower
- Poetry of Xin Qiji


- Last updated: 2024-03-29 09:37:09

The Highest Tower by Xin Qiji




English Translation

I am old now.

Do I care for wealth and rank the world prizes?

Wealth and rank would lead to crisis.

Mu left the king who neglected to serve him wine,

And Tao would not bow for his stipend but resign.

Master Mu,

Prefect Tao,

I’ll learn from you.

I’ll build a garden called “Recluse”

And a pavilion where I may do what I choose.

I’ll drink at leisure

And chant with pleasure.

Land changes hands from year to year in north and south.

How many spoonfuls could one put at once in his mouth?

Stop your old song!

Do not tell me what’s right or wrong!

The poet shows how he values freedom above wealth and rank.

The lyricist uses metaphorical expressions to scold the power-that-be and the profit-seeking commoners who persecuted him, and to express his intention to return to seclusion and seek happiness in the countryside because of his political disillusionment.

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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