Thinking of Ancient Times at Ganlu
- Poetry of Xu Zaisi

《人月圆·甘露怀古》

- Last updated: 2024-06-25 11:54:22

Thinking of Ancient Times at Ganlu by Xu Zaisi
中文原文

江皋楼观前朝寺,秋色入秦淮。

败垣芳草,空廊落叶,深砌苍苔。

远人南去,夕阳西下,江水东来。

木兰花在,山僧试问,知为谁开?


English Translation

Towers and halls

Of the old temple by the river.

Autumn colors slip into the water.

Green grass by the ruined wall,

Fallen leaves by the empty portico.

Green moss by the half-hidden stairs.

The stranger goes south

As the sun dips westward,

The river toward the east.

Magnolia blossoms stay

As the monks question,

“For whom?”

By Xu Zaisi

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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