Blog Culture

Chinese Tang Poem: On Youzhou Tower

In this post we are going to learn another famous Chinese Tang poem written by poet Cheng, Zi’ang.

As I mentioned in my former posts, learning Chinese classic works including Tang poems is a great way to learn Chinese characters as well as Chinese culture.

Chinese has 5000 years long history. During this long time, there appeared a lot of famous writers and classic literature works.

Chinese people are proud of Chinese culture. Almost every child learned some Tang poems.

If you are learning Chinese right now, Tang poems and other classic literature works are strongly recommended.

If you wish to learn other Tang poems, here is the playlist.

Now let’s take a look at this poem.

Youzhou Tower

Why is this poem so popular? In a word, it described an universal feeling that every one feels all the time: The loneliness.

It is said that the poet was in a hard time when he wrote this poem. He tried to do something for the country but the ruler didn’t support him at all.

When we know the background, we might understand better of this poem.

At the beginning, the author described what he thought when he stood on Youzhou tower: 前不见古人 ( qián bú jiàn gǔ rén ): I don’t see people from ancient times. 前: before, 不: no, 见: meet, see,古人: ancient people.

后不见来者 ( hòu bú jiàn lái zhě ): I don’t see the people from future times. 后: after, 不: no, 见: meet, see, 来: come, 者: person.

As a reader, we have connection with this poem right away. When we are alone, we have this feeling as well.

There were a lot of people living in the ancient time, there will be a lot of people coming to the world, but we have no chance to meet each other because we live in different times.

Then the poet wrote: 念天地之悠悠 ( niàn tiān dì zhī yōu yōu ): When I think of the space is endless. 念: think of, 天: sky, 地: earth, 之: modal particle, 悠悠: long.

独怆然而涕下 ( dú chuàng rán ér tì xià ): I am alone here with tears. 独: alone, 怆然: sad, 而: modal particle, 涕: tears,下: down.

When I first read this poem, I was only ten years old, I felt sad as the poet did 1300 years ago.

Today, when I read  this poem, I still have this feeling. I am sure you feel the same connection too.

A classic work is timeless. No matter what time it was written, it touches people all the time. That is the beauty of art.

Now let’s appreciate this poem together. Enjoy your learning.

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