Favorite Tang Poems

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Favorite Tang Poems

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Redigerat: feb 12, 2007, 6:33 pm

by 杜牧


The above picture is of my great grandfather, Yang Junchen. The only object we have that belonged to him is this image, and a porcelain saucer with the inscription of the last phrase in this Tang poem. I love the simile of the leaves made crimson by frost being as red as flowers of the Second Moon (our March).

Redigerat: aug 4, 2007, 3:03 pm

Below is not one of my favorites, but I translated as directly as I could for my father who was in a cynical mood. He'd written the characters in his beautiful calligraphy. (This was a test: I was so thrilled that I could still use my old NJStar word processor after installing a software called "Crossover" for my new iMac. Mac software for Chinese word processing only allows me to write simplified text, which is to me is a degenerate form and cuts young Chinese off from historical texts. Some simplified characters are unbalanced and down right ugly.



*管仲 **鲍叔牙

Turn their hands and they make clouds; invert their hands and they make

One after another countless are given to being insubstantial and superficial.

Sir, did you not recall Guan Zhong's and Bao Shu Ya's* friendship in poverty?

Today's multitude toss away this ideal as if throwing away dirt.

*Guang Zhong, minister of Qi during the Spring Autumn Period (6th Century

by Du Pu


The friendship between Bao Shu Ya and Guan Zhong was made famous by Confucius.

Bao and Guan were partners in business (what kind of business was never mentioned). Guan always took more of the profit, but Bao trusted him, knowing Guan had real need.

When Bao Shuya became wealthy and powerful, he recommended Guan Zhong for the position of prime minister in the State of Qi. Bao was unstinting in his praise of Guan, knowing his friend was the only one worthy and one who would be scrupulous in the position.

Guang did indeed become a powerful prime minister and the King of Qi referred to him as respectfully as Zhong Fu, an honorific meaning, "father."

This is a long-winded way to say that it's easy to be friends in poverty, but harder to remain so when one or both become powerful--people tend to swagger and boast after achieving power and the friendship grows rancorous.

aug 4, 2007, 1:49 pm

>2 belleyang: I feel the same way about simplified characters, but at the same time ... I think it's something that has to be learned.

The Languages of China, which was recommended ages ago in this group turns out to have a good discussion of how they chose some of the simplified shapes. It's really quite good. Though the parts I really like are the discussions of dialect.

Redigerat: aug 4, 2007, 3:07 pm

>3 mvrdrk: Yes, but it has been far from simple for me. I've had to learn two sets of characters. Thanks for the book recommendation. I'll put it on my wishlist.

aug 4, 2007, 11:56 pm

I think some of the simplified characters are just ugly.

You probably know more than two sets of characters. There's traditional, simplified, Japanese (which is slightly different but not as radically as simplified). Then there's different forms of calligraphy, seal characters, etc. And there's handwriting, which is the bane of my life.

I always have to ask my parents to print like they are kindergardners for me because I can't read their handwriting. Mom says the simplified characters are in many cases merely codifying what they do for handwriting already. They've pretty much learned all the simplified ones by osmosis simply by watching mainland TV serials with the subtitles on. It makes me want to cry!

I bought a book that maps between simplified and traditional. I keep it with my dictionaries. And I've installed ChinesePera-kun in firefox because my looking up simplified characters is so slow.

okt 18, 2007, 3:48 pm

Aardvark, for i cannot help thinking the word when i see your initials -- if you are being tortured by simplified characters and did not pick them up as your parents did, i would suggest taking off a few weeks for intensive study, using vocabulary cards separated into 4 to 8 groupings using different colored rubber bands or boxes depending upon how long you think you will remember what you just looked at (see again in 5 minutes, 15, 30, i hr, before sleep, next day, next week). I have a weak memory, but was able to become (more or less) fluent in reading japanese by doing just that. You must get to a certain level where you can read fast without peeking at the dictionary so you will naturally reinforce what you learned or you will end up wasting a lot of time for little long term benefit. And amen on your opinion of simplified characters -- some could be much better looking and just as easy. I wonder if the Chinese paid much attention to the difference in easy or hard for reading and for writing -- in japan, that was ignored when characters for newspaper use etc were codified, so that the mouse character got bumped for being real complex compared to its frequency though it is an easy one to read as it has a mousey feel to it.

okt 19, 2007, 10:29 pm

>6 keigu: A few weeks off for serious study of simplified characters would be heavenly. I hope to do so when I retire. In fact, the local uni has classes on understanding Chinese in Chinese opera, something to aspire to.