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Chinese poem illustration: 哭孟浩然/ Crying for Meng Haoran by Wang Wei

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Knocking the door, informed of his soul mate Meng Haoran(孟浩然) was gone months ago. After the long trip to Xiangyang city(襄阳), Meng’s home, with such a sudden sadness, Wang Wei(王维) cried out and loud. Bewildered, wondering his best friend really gone or not by asking Meng Haoran : For god sake, why this city is still with wonderful River and Mountain(江山 or 江山留胜迹 a reference to Meng’s poem as well), but only without you! Without you, the place looks totally empty!

A deep dive to writing and content reveals why this extremely simple and short poem contains the most profound sadness and sorrow that the later poets never reach.

This poem is a good comparison to another poem of Wang Wei, 送元二使安西/渭城曲, the most famous farewell poem in Tang dynasty. Bidding farewell alive or goodbye to a dead(生离死别) is with equal significance for ancient Chinese. In this poem, Wang Wei take the dead as alive and talked to him, while in 渭城曲, the poet talked to his friends and imagine there would be no people(or no people alive) after the farewell. That is the creativity in Wang Wei’s poems, represents a normal situation in a different time and space, making the feeling prolonged and universal which breaks the limits of time and space.

哭孟浩然
王维

故人不可见,
汉水日东流。
借问襄阳老,
江山空蔡州。

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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