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This is a poem by Tang Dynasty poet 李白 in my grade-7 语文 textbook:

《闻王昌龄左迁龙标遥有此寄》,李白

杨花落尽子规啼,
闻道龙标过五溪。
我寄愁心与明月,
随风直到夜郎西。

From what I understand, the poem laments how 李白's friend 王昌龄 has been 左迁 = 降职 = demoted and sent to 龙标 in Hunan province (away from 李白).

  • 杨花落尽子规啼: here 杨花 refers to 柳絮 (images): willow seeds which cluster together during certain seasons in China; 落 refers to them falling, and 尽 refers to them being "used up"---so they've basically all fallen now; and 子规啼 refers to the cuckoo's (杜鹃) sound. This first part seems to indicate how or when 李白 learned of 王昌龄's travels (although I'm not sure; maybe it just refers to time elapsing).

  • 闻道龙标过五溪: here 闻道 means something like "learned of"; my book says 龙标 refers to his friend 王昌龄, but the custom at the time was to refer to officials by where they are stationed, in this case 龙标; and 过五溪 refers to 王昌龄 going to 五溪, a region of west Hunan and easy Guizhou where five rivers meet. So this line refers to 李白 learning of his friend being stationed elsewhere.

  • 我寄愁心与明月: here 我寄 literally means "I send", although I'm accustomed to this referring to posting things by mail, but maybe it should be non-literally interpreted; here 愁心 means "my worries" and 明月 means "bright moon" (maybe a bright moon makes travel safer). I'm a bit confused about this line.

  • 随风直到夜郎西: here 随风 (or 随君 in my textbook), which I think means "愁心与明月 travels with the wind"; and 夜郎西 seems to be another name for where 龙标 is going.

So maybe I'd translate it to:

The willow seeds have fallen, the cuckoo crows,
I learned Wang Changling has gone to the five creeks,
I send my worries and a bright moon,
On the wind, to west Yelang.

Question: How is my understanding of 李白’s poem 《闻王昌龄左迁龙标遥有此寄》?

4 Answers 4

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I think you get the gist, so just to explain the third verse a little further:

  1. 寄:Instead of "send", are you familiar with the word 寄托?It means "entrust to the care of/leave with/place hope on".
  2. 明月: In Chinese culture, the moon is extremely commonly associated with nostalgia and longing for family/friends. The implication is that, no matter how far away we are sperated from our loved ones, we can all share the same moonlight.

So, 我寄愁心与明月: "I entrust my worried heart to the bright moon (so it accompanies you as I would)". Just in case you missed it, 与 is combined with 寄 to mean "entrust to", it does not mean "and".

In addition, the cry of 子规 is considered sorrowful, and it is said they will cry til spewing blood. Similarly, 杨花落尽 establishes a melancholic/lonely atmosphere. Hopefully this enhances your mental imagery.

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Just my "fun" piece to while away the time, humbly in the romantic spirit of 李白.

杨花 none more to fall,

子规 a melancholic call;

龙标 were you sent,

五溪 a far off land;

寄愁 I do now convey,

明月 in full display;

随风 timely blow,

夜郎 your final goal.

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  • Fun indeed! I like it.
    – EEQ
    Aug 6 at 4:19
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    @EEQ - Thanks. The discussion is getting a bit too academic and "serious" which, I believe, a romantic poet like 李白 would look for some light-hearted counter-balance. Aug 6 at 4:28
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I think that you have understood the meaning of the poem. In traditional Chinese poetry, it is a very common writing technique to use scenery to express emotion. In this poem, "柳絮飘零" and "子规啼叫" represents sadness.

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[The modern interpretation of this poem]:

  • 杨花落尽子规啼,[在柳絮落完,子规啼鸣之时,] - Note: 子规:即杜鹃鸟,又称布谷鸟,相传其啼声哀婉凄切,甚至啼血。

  • 闻道龙标过五溪。[得知您被贬为龙标縣尉(丞),(上任之旅)要经过五溪。] - Note: 龙标 and 五溪 are county/location names.

  • 我寄愁心与明月,[我把我忧愁的心思寄托给明月,]

  • 随风直到夜郎西。[希望能随着风一直陪着你到夜郎以西。] - Note: 夜郎縣

https://so.gushiwen.cn/shiwenv_62280919c9c5.aspx

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