Sent to Secretary Liu
- Poetry of Yu Xuanji

《寄刘尚书》

- Last updated: 2024-04-21 11:05:39

Sent to Secretary Liu by Yu Xuanji
中文原文

八座镇雄军,歌谣满路新。

汾川三月雨,晋水百花春。

囹圄长空锁,干戈久覆尘。

儒僧观子夜,羁客醉红茵。

笔砚行随手,诗书坐绕身。

小材多顾盼,得作食鱼人。


English Translation

I know you used to command

an army of veteran soldiers

marching them down new roads

as they chanted favorite ballads

forded Fenchuan River

in hard March rains

stood by Jinshui River in June

as flowers bloomed all around

but the vast sky gets locked away

behind its prison bars

and weapons ofwar, over time,

acquire a coat of dust

now the scholar and the monk

can sit up late, admiring midnight

and visitors can linger

drunk and flushed on the lawn

the writing brush and inkstone

almost compose on their own

as poetry books form a circle

around the thoughtful self

and a modest talent for verse

begins to come to the surface

the way the orange carp rise

when you scatter food on their pond.

Five-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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