MichaelM Post time 2011-12-20 11:54:56

Please help me understand

I was given this poem by a Chinese lady. I don't know what it means even
when I translate it with Google Translate. Please help me understand.

相见时难别亦难,    东风无力百花残。
    春蚕到死丝方尽,
    蜡炬成灰泪始干。


longzhou Post time 2011-12-20 12:36:28

#1 Very nice Chinese poem by poet Li Sangyin here is the full Chinese version:

相见时难别亦难,
东风无力百花残。
春蚕到死丝方尽,
蜡炬成灰泪始干。
晓镜但愁云鬓改,
夜吟应觉月光寒。
蓬山此去无多路,
青鸟殷勤为探看。

The verses you are interested in say more or less:

A spring silkworm may not stop spinning silk until death.
A candle’s tears dry only when it is burned down to ashes.

longzhou Post time 2011-12-20 12:40:52

#2 About the poet:

Li Shangyin (李商隱)(812-858)  was a Tang Dynasty poet who wrote some of the most lyrical verses known in Chinese poetry, in particular poems about unconsummated love.

MichaelM Post time 2011-12-20 12:58:10

Thank you very much. Very helpful.

One more question. What is she saying to me with this poem (in your opinion)?

longzhou Post time 2011-12-20 13:02:56

#4

I found a full translation of it as follows:

It is hard to meet; it is hard to part;
The east wind is weak, the flowers die.
With the spring silkworm’s death, the threads end;
When the candle turns to ash, the teardrops dry.
The morning mirror frowns on my newly cloudy hair;
At night reading poetry, feel the moon’s cold stare.
The Magic Mountain is not so far from here;
A busy green bird will keep a careful eye.

longzhou Post time 2011-12-20 13:06:07

#4 That's a difficult question, Li Shangyin was famous for writting in a very "criptical" way. Some say they were love poems, some say they were "sour grapes" poems for hsi failure to gain the favors of the officials in palace.

I took these translations from Professor Chung Kwong, who is a retired computer scicnece professor in Singapore though he was born in Shanghai.

longzhou Post time 2011-12-20 13:08:14

#4
This is perhaps the most cited of Li Shangyin’s poems, mainly for its 3rd and 4th lines with their desperate expressions of love to the end. Yet the poem ends optimistically, and the mention of magic mountain and green bird add weight to speculation about Li Shangyin’s possible relationship with a taoist priestess

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