5 Famous Chinese Poems

5-famous-chinese-poems

Chinese poems is at the core of the China’s culture. Historically, China has groomed many insightful, poetic, and highly introspective individuals who wrote poems that till this day, we’re still studying in schools, like our Intensive Mandarin Course. They have famous poets such as Li Bai, Du Fu, Bai Juyi, who produced poems that have great impact on the Chinese culture. Hence, learning Chinese poems is one of the best ways to understand the Chinese culture.

So I’d like to introduce five Chinese ancient poems to you.

Thoughts in the Silent Night — Li Bai

李白《静夜思》

床前明月光,

疑是地上霜。

举头望明月,

低头思故乡。

Thoughts in the Silent Night

Beside my bed a pool of light—

Is it hoarfrost on the ground?

I lift my eyes and see the moon,

I bend my head and think of home.

This is a famous Chinese ancient poem written by Li Bai. It is quite concise in wordage but expresses one’s great homesick and loneliness. In China, when one refers to the moon, he/she often wants to show his/her intense feeling of nostalgia, because he/she sees the same moon with our families though we might be spread wide geographically. For further learning this poem, you can listen to this poem on Youtube.

Love seeds – Wang Wei

王维《红豆》

红豆生南国,

春来发几枝。

愿君多采撷,

此物最相思。

Love seeds

Red berries grow in southern land.

How many load in spring the trees!

Gather them till full is your hand;

They would revive fond memories.

The view point of this poem is unique, and its description is direct and penetrating at the same time. On the surface, it describes red berries in southern land but actually it shows one’s feeling of lovesickness in a subtle way. There is a song about this poem which is sung by a Chinese famous singer Faye Wong.

To Wang Lun – Li Bai

李白《赠汪伦》

李白乘舟将欲行,

忽闻岸上踏歌声。

桃花潭水深千尺,

不及汪伦送我行。

To sail off in a skiff I was about;

Sudden I heard singing ashore all out.

A thousand feet deep Peach Bloom Lake may be,

Compare not it could with Wang’s love for me.

Unlike the previous two, this is a seven-syllable poem which has seven characters in each sentence. It portrays a situation that Li Bai wanted to sail off and Wang Lun, one of his friends, sang a song to make a farewell for him. And Li Bai deemed that Peach Bloom with a thousand feet depth was no match for Wang’s love for him.

On The Heron Tower – Wang Zhihuan

王之涣《登鹳雀楼》

白日依山尽

黄河入海流

欲穷千里目

更上一层楼

The sun beyond the mountains glows;

The Yellow River seawards flows.

You can enjoy a grander sight

By climbing to a greater height.

This poem describes the landscape on the Heron Tower with simple words. The last two sentences are the most famous part of this poem because it is a metaphor for the bold ambitions of the poet, i.e. he wanted to climb to greater heights in his career.

Grass – Bai Juyi

白居易《草》

离离原上草,

一岁一枯荣。

野火烧不尽,

春风吹又生。

Wild grasses spread o’er ancient plain;

With spring and fall they come and go.

Even fire can’t burn them up; again

They rise when vernal breezes blow.

With smooth and natural style, this poem describes the tenacious vitality of wild grasses in extremely adverse growing environment. Though they are burned by fire, they rise when spring comes.

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