Rhyming with a Friend
- Poetry of Yu Xuanji


- Last updated: 2024-04-06 20:08:53

Rhyming with a Friend by Yu Xuanji





English Translation

What can melt away the melancholy of lodging at an inn?

When I open the red notepaper, I see the fine lines of your writing.

Rain sprinkles Penglai all other peaks grow small,

The wind blows in Xie Valley myriad leaves touched by autumn.

In the morning I read word after word, more precious than green jade,

And at night beneath my coverlets I recite page after page.

I’ll pack your poem away in a fragrant casket,

But for now I’ll take it in hand and chant it.

Penglai Mountain, beyond the eastern sea, was the abode of the immortals; the Xie Valley to the remote west was held to be the place of origin of musical pipes.

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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