Tang Yanqian Poem: The Weeping Willow – 唐彦谦《垂柳》








[1] 绊惹:这里是逗引的意思。

[2] 楚王:指楚灵王。

[3] 江畔:楚王栽柳之所应该为长江江畔。《中朝故事》载:唐代曲江江畔多柳,号称“柳衙”。因此,这里的江畔可以理解为长安附近的曲江。

[4] 饿损纤腰:指楚灵王喜欢纤腰的人。郢都的人们都用少食的办法想让自己瘦下来,所以后代有用“楚腰”来形容女子的体态妖娆。杜牧《遣怀》诗中就有“落魄江湖载酒行,楚腰纤细掌中轻”句。

The Weeping Willow

Tang Yanqian

Flirting with vernal breeze, the willow sways so tender.

Who in the world can vie with it but the waist slender?

It is planted at random by the riverside.

How many maids fond of its leaves of hunger died?

The poet satirizes the maidens trying to make their waist as slender as willow branch.






  The first line, “The spring breeze has a special feeling”, leaves aside the external appearance of the weeping willow and writes about its character and emotions from its dynamics. The first line of the book, “The Spring Breeze”, is the result of the spring breeze, but the poet does not tell the truth, but says that the weeping willow intentionally teases the spring breeze. “The second line, “Who in the world dares to fight lightly?” The second line, “Who in the world would dare to fight against the lightness of the weeping willow?” is written in a perfect form. The word “light” describes the slim body. The poet wrote about the beauty of the weeping willow with his own heart. The willow is a metaphor for Zhao Feiyan, a beautiful woman with a light body, which is a continuation of the previous line. “Who dares to fight light” is a very good question, this question, from the opposite side to affirm the beauty of the weeping willow is unparalleled, also shows the weeping willow bullying beauty and pride of the look.

  In the last two lines, “the king of Chu has planted the willow by the river for no reason, and starved his slender waist to death”, the weeping willow by the river was inserted unintentionally, but the concubines in the king’s palace dared not eat in order to make their waist as slender and light as the weeping willow, and they died of hunger for nothing. The poet’s turn of phrase, another way, associated with the story of the king of Chu Ling “love the thin waist, the court ladies died of hunger”, cleverly expressing the poet’s sentiment to the object. The poet is not thinking of the past, but feeling it. Imagine that the late Tang dynasty was corrupt, and the ministers were good at prying into the emperor’s intentions, so they did their best to flatter him. They thought they had understood the king’s intention of loving a slender waist and competed to gird their waists to the point of starvation and death, implicitly and profoundly.

  The poet points the finger at the emperor and the feudal bureaucracy headed by him, stating the shortcomings of the times in a straightforward and painful manner. The poet adopts a roundabout approach, using objects to send up the emotions, showing the sharpness in the tenderness and the sharpness in the subtlety. Although he has no intention to paint the willow with brushwork, he gives the reader the enjoyment of artistic beauty. The first of these is a poem about a willow, which has a rhythm. ▲

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