An Elegy II
- Poetry of Yuan Zhen

《遣悲怀之二》

- Last updated: 2024-05-09 11:36:49

An Elegy II by Yuan Zhen
中文原文

昔日戏言身后意,今朝都到眼前来。

衣裳已施行看尽,针线犹存未忍开。

尚想旧情怜婢仆,也曾因梦送钱财。

诚知此恨人人有,贫贱夫妻百事哀。


English Translation

We joked, long ago, about one of us dying,

But suddenly, before my eyes, you are gone.

Almost all your clothes have been given away;

Your needlework is sealed, I dare not look at it....

I continue your bounty to our men and our maids --

Sometimes, in a dream, I bring you gifts.

...This is a sorrow that all mankind must know --

But not as those know it who have been poor together.

Seven-character-regular-verse

· PreAn Elegy I
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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