Tang Poetry

Does anybody know of a good Tang Poetry discussion forum, esp. one that discusses the meaning of each poem in English, or one that discusses each of the poems in 300 Tang Poems. I’ve started reading Libai’s Chuang qian mingyue guang, and I’ve started acquiring a taste for it.

You’d probably be more likely to find one used by foreign students in China. As we’ve touched on several times in this forum, most foreigners in Taiwan don’t learn Chinese up to that level.

I’m up for discussion if anyone else is. What do you want to talk about?

If I post a poem here, will you be able to help me understand its meaning (first it’s literal meaning and then it’s deeper significance)?

I’m game, as long as it’s not a crap load at once or one of those long ones…




Zǎo fā bái dì chéng
cháo cí bái dì cǎiyún jiān,
qiānlǐ jiānglíng yī rì hái.
Liǎng’àn yuán shēng tí bù zhù,
qīngzhōu yǐguò wàn chóngshān.

I stead this one in college. Leaving Early from Baidicheng [strike]is as best as I can gather a very simple poem in that it has no deeper meaning than a description of the scenery and the intense rapids that carry the poet’s boat down Changjiang[/strike]. I won’t translate it for fear of ruining your own chance to interpret it, but in summary:

Li Bai leaves from the city in the clouds (it’s on a mountain) early in the morning for Jiangling and encounters rapids so fast he feels like he will make it all the way there in just one day. Apes or monkeys or apes+monkeys continuously make a raucous from either bank and before you know it, Li’s passed 10,000 mountains.

Knowing the background to the poem gives it more meaning. Li Bai had been exiled for one reason or another and wandered all the way to Baidicheng, where he was informed he had been forgiven by the court and could come back to civilization. The swift passage and excited imagery represent his “just can’t wait” attitude. (This is all in my personal interpretation)

EDIT: I realized my first and last paragraphs pretty much contradict each other. I’ve struck out the part that doesn’t make sense.

Thanks Hokwongwei. I appreciate it. I’ll be reading and rereading it for a while. What you’ve just told me makes such a difference to my understanding of the poem. Please let us keep this thread going.

Are there two ways of pronouncing 斜? I found it in a poem I’m reading.




Baidu tells me it’s pronounced xiá here. Kind of odd that lines 1, 2, and 4 rhyme but line 3 is “wan.”

If we change the third line to 停車作愛 the meaning of the whole poem changes… :blush:




Yes, there are two ways to pronounce 斜, or rather Mandarin’s pronunciation of 斜 did not experience the same phonology shift with 家 and 花 and thus deviates from Han language of Tu Mu’s time (That’s my PC way of saying Mandarin speakers are reading it wrong).

This poem is said to have 平聲麻韻 (Ping tone and rhymes with the word 麻). Taigi (Taiwanese Holo), reads 麻 as bâ, mâ or muâ (Yang Ping tone with /a/ or /ua/). muâ is colloquial reading and bâ, mâ are literary reading. Colloquial reading represents Old Chinese phonology, and literary reading represents Middle Chinese phonology.

Taigi Literary reading:
斜 siâ
家 khia, ka
花 hua

So the poem was supposed to end with /a/. In Mandarin you should read 斜 as xiá

The poem read in Taigi:


Tōo Bo̍k

Uán-sióng hân-san si̍k-kìng siâ,

Pi̍k-hûn sim-tshù iū jîn-ka

Thîng-ku tsō ài hong-lîm buán

Song-ia̍p hông û jī-gue̍h hua

There’s no grand historic backdrop for this poem like the last one. Tu Mu was traveling and saw a beautiful scenery, and wrote about its beauty. Rough translation by me:

I was traveling towards an icy mountain along a long and rocky trail.
Hidden above the clouds I saw houses dotting the slopes.
As the sun sets, I stopped my carriage by my beloved maple forest.
The frost bitten leaves are redder than flowers in the spring.

[quote=“Hokwongwei”]Baidu tells me it’s pronounced xiá here. Kind of odd that lines 1, 2, and 4 rhyme but line 3 is “wan.”

If we change the third line to 停車作愛 the meaning of the whole poem changes… :blush:[/quote]

3rd line is not supposed to rhyme.

Your last point is why that poem is still popular amongst kids these days :stuck_out_tongue:

You might try the Asiawind Forums. There’s an ethnic Chinese guy from Malaysia, now residing in Australia, who posts a lot on Chinese poems there.


Here’s a representative example post of his on, 禹廟 The temple of Yu - by Du Fu (杜甫 712AD to 770AD)


It’s like having an annotated edition in English. And he’s open to questions.

I think, but aren’t certain, that he covered all 300 poems from 唐詩(诗)三百首 before they revamped the web site and erased all the previous posts. I wasn’t paying much attention. Not really that into poetry. :slight_smile:

The entry for 唐詩(诗)三百首 from The Indiana Companion to Traditional Chinese Literature.


google.com/search?q=tang+po … iawind.com

If there’s any particular poem you’d like him to post I’m sure he’d do it.


At the Wikipedia entry for Three Hundred Tang Poems, they’ve a link to Zhongwen.com where they’ve the 300 poems.


Where they say they’ve linked each poem to its English translation at the University of Virginia’s Etext Center. The links appear to not be working properly. Probably updated the university web site so links no longer go to where the poems now reside.

Anyway after a search I found the 300 Tang Poems here.



Thanks, Hokwongwei.[strike]If you like to comment on the poem itself, I’m listening.[/strike]

Oops, I’m sorry. I didn’t se your posts guys. Thanks so much. I’m diving into it now.

禹廟 is another perfect example. chungyn from Asiawind rendered the poem in Mandarin as such:

[quote]禹廟 The temple of Yu - by Du Fu (杜甫 712AD to 770AD)

禹廟空山裏,—Yu miao4 kong shang li3,
秋風落日斜.—Qiu feng luo4 ri4 xie2.
荒庭垂橘柚,—Huang ting2 chui2 ju2 you4 [*2B],
古屋畫龍蛇.—Gu3 wu hua4 long2 she2.

雲氣生虛壁,—Yun2 qi4 sheng xu bi4,
江深走白沙.—Jiang shen zou3 bai2 sha.
早知乘四載,—Zao3 zhi cheng2 si4 zai4,
疏鑿控三巴.—Shu zao2 kong san ba.[/quote]

You get 斜蛇沙巴 that are supposed to rhyme, but they are rendered in Mandarin as xie2, she2, sha, ba. How does it rhyme? Even though both xie2 and she2’s Pingyin end with e, one represents /ɛ/ and the other /ɤ/. So in Mandarin, we get 3 different finals out of 4 words that are supposed to rhyme.

In Taigi you would get:
Literary Reading
斜 siâ
蛇 siâ
沙 sa
巴 pa

Colloquial Reading:
斜 tshiâ
蛇 tsuâ
沙 sua
巴 pa

Poetic rendering of what people in China are experiencing when you subject the masses to blanket PCR screening.