Climbing a Tall Building on an Autumn Evening: I Gaze to Where the South River Touches the Shih-hsing Road
- Poetry of Zhang Jiuling


- Last updated: 2024-03-31 16:09:43

Climbing a Tall Building on an Autumn Evening: I Gaze to Where the South River Touches the Shih-hsing Road by Zhang Jiuling










English Translation

Streaming rivulets draw back, sandflats emerge,

Frost comes down, the sky’s vault, crystalline.

Hunched at the railing, I gaze long and far,

Path and ford draw many emotions of distant places.

Longing comes from beyond the rivers and mountains;

Where my gaze breaks off, clouds and mists arise.

A rolling flood where nothing is distinct—

Oh, what is accomplished from all this constant toil?

I came here, wind shaking my frail white locks,

No one could say it shook ribbons of high office.

A stabled horse suffering cramped restraints,

A caged bird longing for faraway journeys.

The year grows ever darker toward its close.

At the end of day, a pointless restlessness.

All living creatures value fulfilling their natures,

The bonds upon my body grow from recent fame.

I look back, find I’m truly right now—

But when will ease come for sorrow at what is past?

By Zhang Jiuling

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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