I'm reading the book "Red Star over China" by Edgar Snow. In the autobiography 毛泽东 reported to Snow, in the passage about his teacher's education in a school in 长沙, it is said that he once drew a painting "half sun, half rock" in the art class, which was indicated by a horizontal line with a half circle above it.

In a footnote, it says this is an allusion to a poem by 李太白. I would like, firstly, to know which poem 毛泽东 alluded to, secondly, how he would have expressed this allusion in the original Chinese conversation, i.e. how to translate this expression "half sun, half rock" most authentic back into Chinese.

I'm reading the German translation of the original book by Snow. There it says "halb Sonne, halb Felsen".

1 Answer 1


he once drew a painting "half sun, half rock" in the art class

omg, such translation 🙀

enter image description here

the original text in traditional chinese is



[i] remembered, once i drawn a straight line; above, added a semicircle

this is an allusion to a poem by 李太白

the verse is “半壁見海日”, quoted from a poem 夢遊天姥吟留別, by 李白


about his teacher's education in a school

the original text in chinese, indicated mr mao is a student in that school, not as a teacher


well, 天姥[山] is a 818m mountain in eastern china. the poem’s title stated clearly “hike in a dream” (夢遊); so, “半壁見海日”, i would read it as:

half way (半壁) [to the summit of mount 天姥], [i] saw (見) the sun (日) [rising over] the sea (海)

since the mount 天姥 is located some distance from the sea, one might argue that it’s an exaggeration, or experience 😸


have fun :)

  • Thank you for this information! It's very valuable to me! Commented Jun 25, 2023 at 17:34
  • I am curious. How would one translate 半壁見海日 into everyday English or German? Commented Jun 26, 2023 at 3:12
  • @WayneCheah, i edited the answer, have a look again ; it’s too long as a comment 😸 the trick is. “半壁” has a meaning “half”, treat it as rock, or, wall would be trapped 😼 Commented Jun 26, 2023 at 3:46
  • Quote:- "treat it as rock, or, wall would be trapped" That's what I thought. I needed a second opinion. Thanks. I suppose "half sun, half rock" is "half" correct, poetically speaking? When the sun is rising over the horizon, it is "half a sun", (Mao's semicircle?), and the horizon, (Mao's straight line?) Mao's rather abstract drawing reminds me of the word "旦", (meaning Dawn) So, was Mao being original or a linguistic subliminal perception? Commented Jun 26, 2023 at 10:08
  • @WayneCheah, “half sun” is fully correct, “half rock” is totally incorrect, even poetically no rock should be mentioned lah 😹 maybe “half sun over horizon” is better. “旦” yes :) [in which the sun’s lower edge is above the horizon, one can see the whole sun] Commented Jun 26, 2023 at 12:13

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.