Thinking of a Friend Lost in the Tibetan War
- Poetry of Zhang Ji

《没蕃故人》

- Last updated: 2024-05-04 11:55:42

Thinking of a Friend Lost in the Tibetan War by Zhang Ji
中文原文

前年戍月支,城下没全师。

蕃汉断消息,死生长别离。

无人收废帐,归马识残旗。

欲祭疑君在,天涯哭此时。


English Translation

Last year you went with your troops to Tibet;

And when your men had vanished beyond the citywall,

News was cut off between the two worlds

As between the living and the dead.

No one has come upon a faithful horse guarding

A crumpled tent or torn flag, or any trace of you.

If only I knew, I might serve you in the temple,

Instead of these tears toward the far sky.

Five-character-regular-verse

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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