Bai Juyi Poem: Buying Flowers – 白居易《买花》














[1] 帝城:指京城长安。

[2] 酬直:酬值。

[3] 灼灼(zhuó):形容花鲜艳有光彩的样子。

[4] “戋戋(jiān)”句:戋戋,众多的样子。束,量词,古时帛五匹为一束。素,白绸子。

[5] 幄幕:帐篷。

[6] 庇(bì):庇护。

[7] 泥封:用土培植。

[8] 田舍翁:老农。

[9] 中人赋:中等人家一年缴的赋税。唐时赋税,按户口征收,分为上户、中户、下户。(《旧唐书·食货志》)

Buying Flowers

Bai Juyi

The capital’s in parting spring,

Steeds run and neigh and cab bells ring.

Peonies are at their best hours

And people rush to buy the flowers.

They do not care about the price,

Just count and buy those which seem nice.

For hundred blossoms dazzling red,

Twenty-five rolls of silk they spread.

Sheltered above by curtains wide,

Protected with fences by the side,

Roots sealed with mud, with water sprayed,

Removed, their beauty does not fade.

Accustomed to this way for long,

No family e’er thinks it wrong.

What’s the old peasant doing there?

Why should he come to Flower Fair?

Head bowed, he utters sigh on sigh

And nobody understands why.

A bunch of deep-red peonies

Costs taxes of ten families.

The poet compares the rich who buy flowers and the poor who pay taxes.


“Buying Flowers” is a poem written by Bai Juyi, a poet of the Tang Dynasty, and is the last poem of the group “Ten Poems of Qinzhong Yin”. The poem exposes the corrupt life of the upper class rulers at that time, who lived in luxury and squandered money like dirt, and deeply reflects the conflict between the exploited and the exploiting through the scene of the nobles buying peonies in Chang’an. The poem is divided into two parts: the first fourteen lines are about the nobles buying flowers in the capital city; the second six lines are about the Tianshuang people lamenting the purchase of flowers. The whole poem is well written, with sharp contrasts and pungent satire, and has deep social significance.

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