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Chinese poem illustration: 琵琶行 Song of Pipa by Bai Juyi

Part 1: The background and the prelude of this poem.

Part 2: The first and second paragraph of the poem.

Part3: The third and fourth paragraph of the poem. At the end of the video, the significance of this poem to Bai Juyi’ s life is analysis.

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琵琶行1
琵琶行2
琵琶行3

Song of Pipa is one of the twin star poems by Bai Juyi(白居易), The other one is Song of Everlasting Sorrow(长恨歌). Bai Juyi’ s poems is famous for realistic, critical and oral wording. The poet even tested his new poem with people with age and kids on the street to see if it was understandable by them.

Lived in a time that everything getting worse, the daily life of a normal person, either the politics in the central government, by writing those realistic and critic poetry, Bai won his popularity as “Kids know Bai’s poem, the foreigners either” (童子解吟长恨曲,胡儿能唱琵琶篇). These poems was named as New Musical Department (新乐府) by Bai Juyi, which aimed to reflect the life of normal people of that time, which is the main stream of Musical Department songs in Han dynasty as well.

Yet, with 2600 Bai’s poems left till today, 900 of them are about wine drinking. This extraordinarily high percentage poems on wine drinking shows that Mr. Bai was much more than New Musical Department songs.

This poem was written during the turning point of Bai Juyi, when his life pursuit and lifestyle totally changed. Before , the poet focused on the life of normal people , or politics. After, he enjoyed his life with beauties and wine, stayed away from politics.

Part1 is about

琵琶行 / 琵琶引
白居易

元和十年,予左迁九江郡司马。明年秋,送客湓浦口,闻舟中夜弹琵琶者,听其音,铮铮然有京都声。问其人,本长安倡女,尝学琵琶于穆、曹二善才,年长色衰,委身为贾人妇。遂命酒,使快弹数曲。曲罢悯然,自叙少小时欢乐事,今漂沦憔悴,转徙于江湖间。予出官二年,恬然自安,感斯人言,是夕始觉有迁谪意。因为长句,歌以赠之,凡六百一十六言,命曰琵琶行。

浔阳江头夜送客,枫叶荻花秋瑟瑟。
主人下马客在船,举酒欲饮无管弦。
醉不成欢惨将别,别时茫茫江浸月。
忽闻水上琵琶声,主人忘归客不发。
寻声暗问弹者谁?琵琶声停欲语迟。
移船相近邀相见,添酒回灯重开宴。
千呼万唤始出来,犹抱琵琶半遮面。
转轴拨弦三两声,未成曲调先有情。
弦弦掩抑声声思,似诉平生不得志。
低眉信手续续弹,说尽心中无限事。
轻拢慢捻抹复挑,初为霓裳后六幺。
大弦嘈嘈如急雨,小弦切切如私语。
嘈嘈切切错杂弹,大珠小珠落玉盘。
间关莺语花底滑,幽咽泉流冰下难。
冰泉冷涩弦凝绝,凝绝不通声暂歇。
别有幽愁暗恨生,此时无声胜有声。
银瓶乍破水浆迸,铁骑突出刀枪鸣。
曲终收拨当心画,四弦一声如裂帛。
东船西舫悄无言,唯见江心秋月白。
沉吟放拨插弦中,整顿衣裳起敛容。
自言本是京城女,家在虾蟆陵下住。
十三学得琵琶成,名属教坊第一部。
曲罢曾教善才服,妆成每被秋娘妒。
五陵年少争缠头,一曲红绡不知数。
钿头银篦击节碎,血色罗裙翻酒污。
今年欢笑复明年,秋月春风等闲度。
弟走从军阿姨死,暮去朝来颜色故。
门前冷落鞍马稀,老大嫁作商人妇。
商人重利轻别离,前月浮梁买茶去。
去来江口守空船,绕船月明江水寒。
夜深忽梦少年事,梦啼妆泪红阑干。
我闻琵琶已叹息,又闻此语重唧唧。
同是天涯沦落人,相逢何必曾相识!
我从去年辞帝京,谪居卧病浔阳城。
浔阳地僻无音乐,终岁不闻丝竹声。
住近湓江地低湿,黄芦苦竹绕宅生。
其间旦暮闻何物?杜鹃啼血猿哀鸣。
春江花朝秋月夜,往往取酒还独倾。
岂无山歌与村笛?呕哑嘲哳难为听。
今夜闻君琵琶语,如听仙乐耳暂明。
莫辞更坐弹一曲,为君翻作琵琶行。
感我此言良久立,却坐促弦弦转急。
凄凄不似向前声,满座重闻皆掩泣。
座中泣下谁最多?江州司马青衫湿。

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