River Journey
- Poetry of Yu Xuanji


- Last updated: 2024-05-25 13:40:56

River Journey by Yu Xuanji





English Translation

We cross the Yangtze diagonally

heading for Wuchang city

passing Parrot Island where thousands of families live

in the early hours the painted barge

has a cargo of lovers and sleepers

and I dream I've become a butterfly

seeking the flowers too

Dim mist and we're already sailing

into Cormorant Harbor

I thought we were still in the middle

somewhere near Parrot Island

I went to bed drunk, lay awake

singing all kinds of nonsense

got up on the Hanjiang River side

stunned to be back on dry land.

Seven-character poem

· PreAutumn Lament
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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