Selling the Last Peonies
- Poetry of Yu Xuanji

《卖残牡丹》

- Last updated: 2024-05-16 10:31:48

Selling the Last Peonies by Yu Xuanji
中文原文

临风兴叹落花频,芳意潜消又一春。

应为价高人不问,却缘香甚蝶难亲。

红英只称生宫里,翠叶那堪染路尘。

及至移根上林苑,王孙方恨买无因。


English Translation

Facing the wind makes us sigh

we know how many flowers fall

spring has come back again

and where have the fragrant longings gone?

who can afford these peonies?

their price is much too high

their arrogant aroma

even intimidates butterflies

flowers so deeply red

they must have been grown in a palace

leaves so darkly green

dust scarcely dares to settle there

if you wait till they're transplanted

to the Imperial Gardens

then you, young lords, will find

you have no means to buy them.

Seven-character poem

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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