Spring Blossoms On The Moonlit River
- Poetry of Zhang Ruoxu

Spring Blossoms On The Moonlit River by Zhang Ruoxu



















English Translation

Tides of the spring river washes into the levelled ocean,

And with the tide, a luminous moon is born above sea surface.

Shimmering with the waves for thousands of li,

Where is there no moonlight gracing this spring river!?

The river snakes around the lush green fields,

Moon shining upon the flower filled forest, making all appear like sleet.

Flowing frost from the sky appears not to be drifting,

The white sand of river banks cannot be seen.

River and sky becomes one, with not the finest of dust,

Shining brightly in the sky is that lone wheel of a moon.

By this riverside, what person was first to see the moon?

This river’s moon, what year did it first shine upon the people?

Generations after generations of human life, not at all does it depletes,

The river’s moon is still the same year after year.

It is unknown for who this river’s moon awaits for,

Only seeing this long river sending off its flowing water.

A spread of white clouds vaguely fades far into the distance,

Such unbearable sorrows of parting by Qing Feng Riverside.

Which family’s little boat is drifting along the rivers tonight? (Referring to a man out journeying)

Where is the yearning love in the moonlit tower? (Referring to his wife’s longing for him at home)

Pitiful it is, the lingering moonlight illuminating the tower,

It should be reflecting the one who left in the dresser table mirror.

Unable to roll it away from the jade-like chamber with the closing of blinds,

Brushed away on the clothes pounding stone it is, but still comes back.

(The moon shines in as though it understands the pain of longing, but should the moon really understand her sorrows then it should let the lady see her lover in the mirror to ease her longing, instead its lingering presence only adds to her yearnings)

In this moment, both gazes at the moon, but unable they are to hear each other,

Only wishing the brilliance of the moon is shining upon the dear husband.

Swans and geese flies long distances but cannot fly beyond the light,

Fishes and [marine] reptiles dives and jumps but only forms ripples in the water.

(Swans and geese and fly far but cannot fly to him, fishes and marine reptiles can swim deep into the water but cannot swim to him)

Dreaming of flowers descending upon the tranquil pool last night,

Pitiful it is, half of spring has past yet there is still no return.

The running river water flowing by, along with spring,

Into the river pool, the descending moon goes, tilting west again.

The setting moon hiding deeply into the ocean mist,

Jie Shi and Xiao Xiang, the distance between is infinite. (One place south, one place north, rendering a reunion hopeless)

It is unknown how many people managed to return home riding the moonlight,

Only knowing the descending moon stirs immense emotions amongst the trees by the riverbank.

Spring Blossoms On The Moonlit River is composed by Zhang Ruo Xu, a poet from the Tang Dynasty. The poem is comprised of thirty six lines, each line rhythmically made up of seven characters (although this aspect is completely lost through translation), creatively reproducing the night scenery of Jiangnan’s spring season, whilst painting the picture of the Yangtze River under the brilliance of the moonlight, he is also delivering the bitter pain of parting and longing, such thoughts of wanting to return home as he thinks of how his beloved must feel.

- Last updated: 2024-07-02 17:54:59
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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