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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 his soul mate Meng Haoran(孟浩然) had gone months ago. With the long trip to Xiang Yang city(襄阳), Meng’s home, with such a sudden sadness, Wang Wei(王维) cried out and loud. Bewildered, was his best friend really gone or still at somewhere waiting him?

借问襄阳老: For a while, Wang Wei took his friend still alive with him by asking Meng Haoran : For god sake, why this city is still with wonderful River and Mountain(江山, here also implies the poems left by Meng), but only without you my buddy! Without you, the place looks totally empty! The word of River and Mountain(江山) here could be a quotation to a Meng’s poem: 江山留胜迹, which double the memory and sorrow. River and Mountain poetry are also the poetry Meng known for.

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 departing poem in Tang dynasty. Departing alive or departing to a dead 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 departing. That is the creativity in Wang Wei’s poems, represents the normal situation in a different time and space imagined, expressing profound emotion and feeling.

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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