Chinese Poetry Tang Poem: Grasses

When you think of spring, which imagine jumps into your mind in the first place? For me, it is green grasses.

Today we are going to appreciate a tang poem: grasses (草) written by the poet 白居易(Bai2, Ju1yi4). This poem praised the life strength of grass.

At the beginning, the poet described a beautiful spring scene on the plain: 离离原上草 (li2 li2 yuan2 shang4 cao), it means grasses are everywhere on the plain.

However, grass are 一岁一枯荣 (yi2 sui4 yi4 ku1 rong2) which means grasses are withered and lush yearly.

But grasses have strong life strength: 野火烧不尽 (ye2 huo3 shao1 bu2 jin4) that means wild fire can’t burn grasses down.

春风吹又生 (chun1 feng1 chui1 you4 sheng1), once spring wind starts to blow, they will grow again.

Attention: Some words like 一(yī), 不(bù) and 野(yě) changed their tone marks. For more information about tone marks, read my post: How to pronounce Mandarin-Chinese tones. 

Considering learners’ learning level and background, we will only appreciate first half part of the poem.

This poem’s original title is 赋得古原草送别(fu4 de gu3 yuan2 cao3 song4 bie2)。It is said, the poet wrote this poem while he took an exam at 16 years old.

In this poem, at the beginning, the poet described a typical spring scene with grasses everywhere and thought highly of grasses’s strong life strength, which became a famous saying on Chinese literature.

On the last part of poem, the poet described his lingering feeling for saying goodbye to his friend on such a beautiful spring day.

For your reference, this is the last part of this poem: 远方侵古道(yuan3 fang1 qin1 gu3 dao4),晴翠接荒城(qing2 cui4 jie1 huang1 cheng2)。又送王孙去(you4 song4 wang2 shun4 qu4),萋萋满别情(qi1 qi1 man3 bie2 qing2)。

Now let’s read this poem together.


(traditional characters)

離離原上草,一歲一枯榮。野火燒不盡,春風吹又生


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