Watching Them Play Polo
- Poetry of Yu Xuanji


- Last updated: 2024-05-20 18:01:04

Watching Them Play Polo by Yu Xuanji





English Translation

Firm, round, clean and smooth,

the ball goes by like a comet

the crescent-shaped sticks crack sharply

nobody wants to stop

the riders, pulling free,

chase each other, jostling

watch from behind the railing

staying as long as I like

around and around they go

the ball skipping just ahead of them

sometimes it seems as if

they'll never score a goal

but having begun their game

they ought to be able to finish it

and whoever plays the best

ought to be given a prize.


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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