Two Verses on Parting
- Poetry of Yu Xuanji


- Last updated: 2024-04-10 11:33:48

Two Verses on Parting by Yu Xuanji





English Translation


These nights in our chamber of

love fulfilled your expectations;

hardly did I count

on you, my lover, parting.

Dozing off, I cannot tell

where the clouds have gone;

the moths of the wilds are flitting

‘round the guttering lamp.


Water adapts unresisting

to the shape of the vessel it’s in;

obviously a definite form

cannot be fixed for good.

Once the clouds have gone,

they have no mind to return.

Wistful in the springtime breeze

over the river of an eve,

a mandarin duck without its flock

flies away alone.

By Yu Xuanji

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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