Chinese Poem: "Chinese Flowering Crabapple"

苏轼(Sū Shì)

东风袅袅泛崇光(dōngfēng niǎoniǎo fàn chóng guāng),
香雾空蒙月转廊(xiāng wù kōngméng yuè zhuǎn láng).
只恐夜深花睡去(zhǐ kǒng yèshēn huā shuì qù),
故烧高烛照红妆(gù shāo gāo zhú zhào hóngzhuāng).

【Explanation of the poem】
The poem was written in the year 1080 when Chinese poet Su Shi of the Song Dynasty was banished to Huangzhou (now Huanggang in south China’s Hubei Province). The first two sentences of the poem are ab0ut the circumstances of his banishment, and the latter two are ab0ut the things that weighed upon his mind. Although he called his poem "Chinese Flowering Crabapple," Su Shi did not begin with describing the flower. Instead he began with introducing the spring wind by writing "东风袅袅(dōngfēng niǎoniǎo)," which was borrowed from "Madame Xiang from Nine Songs of Chuci" by Qu Yuan, a Chinese poet who lived during the Warring States Period of ancient China.
The second sentence "香雾空蒙月转廊(xiāng wù kōngméng yuè zhuǎn láng)" translates as "In the atmosphere of the fragrant and hollow fog the moon had turned to the other side of corridor," meaning it was already late, but the poet still remained awake. Readers may tell from this that Su Shi was far away from the emperor and did not receive many royal favors or promotions from him.
The third sentence "只恐夜深花睡去(zhǐ kǒng yèshēn huā shuì qù)" can be considered the keynote of the poem. It denotes the mood of the poet when he appreciated the flower. When the moon didn’t cast light upon the flower, Su Shi poet regretted it. Because the Chinese flowering crabapple was so splendid, how could it stand being alone in the darkness? The flower had stored up energy for a season, but there was no one appreciating its beauty. Wouldn’t the flower be sad and disappointed? In the silent night, only the poet, lonely and sleepless, could listen to the sound of the flower, and only this lonesome Chinese flowering crabapple could accompany him spiritually throughout the night.
The last sentence "故烧高烛照红妆(gù shāo gāo zhú zhào hóngzhuāng)" is the most profound part of the entire poem. "故(meaning purposefully)" echoed with "只恐(only worried ab0ut)" denotes that the poet had a special feeling for the Chinese flowering crabapple. "烧高烛(meaning lighting a candle)" corresponds to "月转廊(meaning the moon turning to the other side of the corridor)."
Generally speaking, the language of the poem is simple and easy, but it conveys a profound feeling. Zha Shenxing, a poet during the Qing Dynasty once said, "The poem is extremely colloquial, and it was not the state of Su Shi being a senior citizen." Although Su Shi was over the age of 40 when he wrote the poem, there was hardly any indication in it that he was downhearted. Bright and beautiful images of the "east wind," "fragrant frog," "high candle," "red makeup" all allow readers to experience the poet’s light and natural state of mind.

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