On Poetry II
- Poetry of Zhao Yi


- Last updated: 2024-06-17 10:57:51

On Poetry II by Zhao Yi



English Translation

The poems of Li Po and Tu Fu, passed along myriad voices,

No longer seem in this modern era so fresh and new.

Every age these rivers and hills produce a genius,

Each capturing in spirit the Odes and Song1 for scores of decades.

The Shih-ching and Ch’u Tz’u, the two oldest anthologies of Chinese poetry.

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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