Chinese literature is very beautiful! Tang Poetry was generally composed in the Tang Dynasty and represents Chinese cultural history. Most people say it is China’s greatest contribution to the world literature.
As you might be more familiar with traditional English language poems, which are mainly confined to rhyme, meter, and genre type, Chinese poems will be surprisingly different to you. However, Tang poems are always composed within a similar structure that dictates a set of either five or seven word-syllables per line, but also requires a rhyme scheme, and “tonal” constraints.
Today, we are going to read through a poem by 李白(Li Bai), one of the greatest poets in Tang.
To understand a Chinese traditional poem, you’d better know more about the structure of Chinese sentences and the way a translation can change based on the combination of words. Interested in becoming a geek in Chinese poem? Simply ask our knowledgeable Chinese tutors in a trial class to learn Mandarin, who will be pleased to help you! Start with downloading our App at the Google PlayStore and sign up for your personal 1-on-1 trial class to learn Chinese language with one of our highly motivated professional Mandarin tutors – no matter where you are!
Let’s start to appreciate the masterpiece 静夜思 from 李白 (Li Bai)!
Are you already able to read it? Let’s take a closer look at the single sentences to understand the sentences more in detail.
|静夜思 – 李白||Jìng yè sī – Lǐ bái||In the Still of the Night-Lǐ bái|
|床前明月光，||Chuáng qián míng yuè guāng,||I descry bright moonlight in front of my bed.|
|疑是地上霜。||yí shì dì shàng shuāng.||I suspect it to be hoary frost on the floor.|
|举头望明月,||Jǔ tóu wàng míng yuè,||I watch the bright moon,
as I tilt back my head.
|低头思故乡。||dī tóu sī gù xiāng.||I yearn while stooping,
for my homeland more.
Translated by 徐忠杰
Vocab for you
|床前||chuáng qián||in front of the bed|
|月光||yuè guāng||moon light|
|地上||dì shàng||on the ground / on the floor|
|举头||jǔ tóu||to raise the head|
|望||wàng||to stare/ look at|
The Poem is structured as a single quatrain in five-character regulated verse with a simple AABA rhyme scheme! Do you know why Li Bai compose this poem? Can you feel his nostalgia? Discuss more with us if you’d like!