Wang Wei Poem: Sitting Alone on an Autumn Night – 王维《秋夜独坐》












[1] 白发:《列仙传》载,稷丘君朱璜入山八十余年,“白发尽黑”。此反用典故。

[2] “黄金”句:古道士、方士谓烧炼丹药化为金银之事,又叫黄白之术。《史记·孝武本纪》:“致物而丹砂可化为黄金,黄金成,以为饮食器则益寿。”

[3] 老病:佛教称生老病死为四苦。《释迦谱》:“以畏生老病死之苦,故于五欲不敢爱者。”

[4] 无生:无生即无灭。佛家把世界看成绝对静止,认为一切皆虚幻。《仁王经》:“一切法性真实空,不来不去,无生无灭。”

Sitting Alone on an Autumn Night

Wang Wei

Sitting alone, I grieve over my hair white;

In empty room it approaches midnight.

With the rain I hear in the mountain fruit fall;

By lamplight the insects chirp in my hall.

I cannot blacken my white hair while old,

Nor can I turn a metal into gold.

If you want to get rid of ills of old age,

You can only learn from the Buddhist sage.

The poet thinks it best to learn from the Buddhist sage.


The poem “Sitting Alone on an Autumn Night” is a poem in five lines composed by Wang Wei, a poet of the Tang Dynasty. The first couplet of the poem describes the poet’s deep thoughtfulness and sadness and the mood of the poem: the poet sits alone in an empty hall and ponders hard on a rainy night in autumn, when no one is around. The first couplet follows the first one, and uses the technique of “real and imaginary” to depict the bleakness of the setting. The second two lines are about enlightenment and the study of Buddhism: everything is born and must perish, and only nature is eternal, while man and everything else is transient. The poem is easy to understand, simple and concise, and illustrates the process of the poet’s enlightenment, or Zen enlightenment. The poet’s desire to convert to Buddhism is expressed in the poem, which shows the poet’s determination to practice Buddhism and leave the sea of suffering on earth forever.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *