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Searching for a Poem; perhaps from Tang or Song Dynasty


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Can someone help identify a short, love poem for me. If possible, it would be great to list the poem in its entirety or cite a web-reference.

With apologies, the jist of the love poem I seek is that one person lives near the source of the Yangtze and the other person lives downstream far away. They don't know when they will see each other but they take comfort in knowing that they drink from the same stream.

I believe that this is a fairly well-known poem.


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Thank you Outofin for sending the poem ! I greatly appreciate it.

I don't read Chinese bu can use machine translation software to translate to English.

If you or anybody reading this thread can slip me the poet name, I would greatly appreciate it.

Best Regards,

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李之仪 = Li Zhiyi (or, more old-fashioned, Li Chih-yi).

use machine translation software to translate to English
Be sure to post the results here, that should be interesting.

It might be a better idea to just look for a real translation, now that you know the name of the poet.

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I learnt this poem by listening to a song sung by famous Chinese singer Teresa Teng. I know how to sing the song, and as a result I can recite the poem. Here is the song -> http://hk.youtube.com/watch?v=2hsH9gYWUQ8

The song is from the highly acclaimed album "Dan Dan You Qing", which IMHO is not to be missed (I finally bought the CD last year, after throwing away the cassette tape years ago).

PS - looks like there are a few typos in post #2.

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A lovely poem. I wonder if there is a book of love poems from the Tang and Song in Chinese and English. Or maybe others here on the forum can post their favorite love poems in Chinese that date from those dynasties.

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If you don't know Chinese or can't read it, how can you enjoy the poem/poetry in its entirety in its original language, Chinese? how can you understand it, some terms are archaic and cannot be looked up in the dictionary. Poets in the Tang and Song dynasties use very different vocabularies. How can you possibly understand it if most machine translations are unreliable? FYI: 李之仪 is from the Song/Sung dynasty.


The most famous of Tang Poetry books is the renowned 300 Tang Poems or in Chinese 唐诗三百首 "tangshi sanbai shou" in Hanyu Pinyin。

The most famous of Song Poetry is in a collection called "Lyrics of the Song dynasty" or in Chinese 宋词 "song qi" in Hanyu Pinyin ("Sung Ch'i" in Wade-Giles Romanization).

You can look for bilingual translations at your local Chinese bookstore, if there is one, where you live.

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Skylee, I've been to this site before, and had translated the poem by 李 白 Li Bai called 關

山月 "Guan Shan Yue" The Moon at the Fortified Pass for someone at another website.

The link's here: http://afpc.asso.fr/wengu/wg/wengu.php?l=Tangshi&no=38

Here's the poem:

李 白 關山月

明月出天山, 蒼茫雲海間;

長風幾萬里, 吹度玉門關。

漢下白登道, 胡窺青海灣。

由來征戰地, 不見有人還。

戍客望邊色, 思歸多苦顏;

高樓當此夜, 歎息未應閑。

The bright moon lifts from the Mountain of Heaven

In an infinite haze of cloud and sea,

And the wind, that has come a thousand miles,

Beats at the Jade Pass battlements....

China marches its men down Baideng Road

While Tartar troops peer across blue waters of the bay....

And since not one battle famous in history

Sent all its fighters back again,

The soldiers turn round, looking toward the border,

And think of home, with wistful eyes,

And of those tonight in the upper chambers

Who toss and sigh and cannot rest.

I have used this website to translate/copy the last four lines (There's a total of 12 lines of 5 characters per line) for someone which has been recited by Sao Feng [portrayed by Chow Yun Fat] in Cantonese from Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.

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Clearly, you can find the best of Chinese language in classic poems. I would highly recommend those Chinese language learners who seek beyond the meaning of daily communication to read some classic poems. They're not necessarily hard to understand. The poem mentioned in this thread is a good example. It's a great poem using plain language. Chinese pupils start learning classic poetry in elementary school.

I think, on average, Song poems are no match for Tang poems. Of course, only a personal opinion.

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As progenitor of this thread I would just like to thank everybody that replied and weighed-in with their comments.

Below are two translated version of Li Zhyi 's poem as it was suggested for me to post. You may not like either of them ? The second translation has been greatly altered, perhaps butchered, for the sake of rhyming.

I can certainly appreciate the fact, as one contributor mentioned, that much is lost in translation from Chinese to English. Then, in addition, there are the subtleties and nuances of the ancient prose. Perhaps even a challenge for many Chinese ? And as it was earlier pointed out, this is rather a simple poem in comparison to many.

For many of us Lao Wai, the best we hope to do is to cling on to a scholarly- translation to enjoy.

I would conclude that though we drink from the same river. is one of the best metaphors I have ever read. What a great poem !

I live upstream of the Yangtze River,

you live downstream of it.

Day and day I miss you,

but you are not in view,

though we drink from the same river.

When will the water no more flow?

when will my grief no longer grow?

I wish your hear as same as mine,

then not in vain for you I pine

Song of Divination----

I live upstream and you downstream by Yangtze Blue.

Day after day of you I think, but you are not in view,

Although as one we drink the water clear of River Blue.

When will the water no more flow?

When will my grief no longer grow?

I wish your heart be but like mine,

Then not in vain for you I pine.

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One more translation and a few more links for you, CrouchingDragon:



4/16/2007 09:06 pm

卜算子 李之儀 (1038-1117)Song Dynasty









"To the Tune 'The Diviner' "

by Li Zhiyi

I live at the source of the Yangtze,

You live at the end.

Every day I think of you, though I do not see you,

But we both drink from the same river.

When will the water stop flowing?

When will my eternal hate stop?

I only ask that your heart be just like mine,

May our mutual love never come to an end.

(slightly edited)


See also:


(with optional Hanyu Pinyin, Bopomofo markings)


(with music)



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  • 4 weeks later...

There is another version of the same romantic idea, in


from "情史類略" (Classified love stories in History ) a famous oldy in which you'll find plenty of love poems.

The story of 梁意娘 Liáng Yì Niáng (Lương Ý Nương) is famous in Vietnam because there was an allusion to it in the Kim Vân Kiều (金雲翹傳 ) of Nguyễn Du (阮攸) ...

In the Late Zhou dynasty (Five Dynasties period) , a girl named Liáng Yì Niáng fell in love with a cousin , a student named Lee (sh) , a regular guest to the family. On that Mid Autumn occasion, moon-seeing was a pretext for the lovers to linger on , and perhaps they were about to go too far :mrgreen: when they were discovered.

The lovers were forbiddent to see each other . Three years passed. That was too much for the girl, who secretly sent to Student Lee 李生 this famous poem :





























In this story, the river is not the Cháng Jiāng 長江, but the Xiāng jiāng 湘江


The Xiang River is said to be deep


but it's not half as deep as our love


A river's depth has its limits


our love suffers no bounds


You are at the river's upstream


I am at the other end


I yearn for you , yet cannot see you


We can only drink the same water from the same river.

Eventually, through negotiation, the story had a happy ending .

In Vietnam, these verses and Liang Yi niang story are very often given in footnotes to the following verses in Nguyễn Du's poem :

Sông Tương một giải nông sờ,

Bên trông đầu nọ, bên chờ cuối kia

Unpoetic translation :The river Xiang [however deep], is just a shallow stream [compared with their love] , as they are yearning for each other at both ends.

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