She Sings an Old Song
- Poetry of Zhang Hu

《何满子》

- Last updated: 2024-05-11 12:32:58

She Sings an Old Song by Zhang Hu
中文原文

故国三千里,深宫二十年。

一声何满子,双泪落君前。


English Translation

A lady of the palace these twenty years,

She has lived here a thousand miles from her home-

Yet ask her for this song and, with the first few words of it,

See how she tries to hold back her tears.

Five-character-quatrain

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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