The West Building (To the Tune of Dielianhua)
- Poetry of Yan Jidao


- Last updated: 2024-04-17 14:54:32

The West Building (To the Tune of Dielianhua) by Yan Jidao






English Translation

What happened in the parting, in my cups

in the west building, I cannot remember, waking

from a drunk sleep.

Dreams in the spring,

Clouds in the autumn.

It is easy to meet, and to part too.

The moon slanting through the window,

I lie sleepless. The pained screen

unfolds, at its leisure,

the verdant southern mountains.

The wine-stains on the clothes,

the words in the poem, line

upon line, drop after drop,

all speak of melancholy.

Even the red candle feels helpless,

in the cold night, shedding tears

for me, in vain.

By Yan Jidao

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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