Chinese Classical Poems

Chinese poetry can be divided into three main periods: the early period, the classical period from the Han Dynasty to the fall of the Qing Dynasty,  and the modern period of Westernised free verse.  In Chinese literature, the Tang period (618-907) is considered the golden age of Chinese poetry.  For centuries, Chinese students have used the poems to learn to read and write, as well as in cultivating good character.  Here are some poems recited by Annabelle.

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赋得古原草送别 Fù Dé Gǔ Yuán Cǎo Sònɡ Bié

Video of Annabelle reciting the poem.  To me, the grass in this poem is more like weed.  You can burn weed but it will just grow again.  This teaches children a great lesson to not give up and be persistent.

離離原上草,一歲一枯榮。 Lí lí yuán shànɡ cǎo, yí suì yì kū rónɡ.
野火燒不盡,春風吹又生     Yéhuǒ shāo bú jìn, chūnfēnɡ chuī yòu shēnɡ.

The grass is spreading out across the plain,
Each year, it dies, then flourishes again.
Fire cannot destroy it all
When spring winds blow they grow again.

春晓 chun(3)xiao(3)
Video of Annabelle reciting 春晓chun(3)xiao(3). This is the English translation of this Tang Dynasty poem.

    Spring Morning (Meng Hao-Ran, 689-740 AD, China) Ying Sun
    I wake up with the sun up high.
    Birds chirp everywhere in the sky.
    Last night a rainstorm passed by.
    Flowers must have fallen down – I sigh


静夜思 jin(4)ye(4)si(1)
Video of Annabelle reciting 静夜思 jin(4)ye(4)si(1).

    靜夜思 (李白) (traditional Chinese)   jìng yè sī (Lĭ Bái)
    床前明月光,chuáng qián míng yuè guāng
    疑是地上霜。yí shì dì shang shuāng
    舉頭望明月,jŭ tóu wàng míng yuè
    低頭思故鄉。dī tóu sī gù xiāng
    In the Quiet of the Night (Li Bai, 701-762 AD, China)
    Moonlight reflects off the front of my bed.
    Could it be frost on the ground instead?
    I look up to view the bright moon ahead.
    Thoughts of hometown bring down my head.

相思 xiang(1)si(1)
Video of Annabelle reciting 相思 xiang(1)si(1).

Yearning (Wang Wei, 699-761 AD, China)

In southern lands the red bean tree grows.

It sprouts when the vernal breeze blows.

Pick the red beans with your hands filled.

Your yearning for love will be fulfilled.


七步诗 qi(1)bu(4)shi(1)

Video of Annabelle reciting the 4 line version of the 七步诗 qi(1)bu(4)shi(1) poem.  An older brother, Cao Zhi, who was an emperor was jealous of his younger brother’s talents.  He forced his younger brother to produce a poem in 7 steps or die.  The younger brother, Cao Pi, produced this poem in 7 steps.

    qī bù shī       Cáo Zhí zhŭ dòu rán dòu qí dòu zài
    《 七 步 詩 》 曹 植
    煮 豆 燃 豆 萁 ,zhŭ dòu rán dòu qí
    豆 在 釜 中 泣 。dòu zài fŭ zhōng qì
    本 是 同 根 生 ,bĕn shì tóng gēn shēng
    相 煎 何 太 急 ?xiāng jiān hé tài jí
    《七步詩》 曹植 (traditional Chinese)
    煮豆燃豆萁,
    豆在釜中泣。
    本是同根生,
    相煎何太急?

Seven Steps Verse
Boiling the beans to make the soup,
and of this the beans thus wailed:
“Borne are we of the same root;
should you now burn me with such disregard?”


长歌行 chang2ge1xing2

Video of Annabelle reciting 长歌行. This poem is about how if you don’t study or work hard when you are young. Then you can’t turn back the hands of time and you will live with regrets when you are older. I take it to mean that you only live once, you need to give it all you got so that you don’t have any regrets when you are older.

长歌行 戴梓伊
chang ge xing dai yi
百川东到海,
bai chuan dong dao hai
何时复西归?
he shi fu xi gui
少壮不努力,
shao zhuang bu nu li
老大徒伤悲。
lao da tu shang bei

長歌行 戴梓伊
百川東到海,
何時復西歸?
少壯不努力,
老大徒傷悲。