Mastering Chinese Poetry: An invitation on a cold winter night
Today marks Minor Snow, or "Xiao Xue" in Chinese, the 20th solar term in the Chinese lunar calendar. By now, some areas in China would have experienced the joy of the first snow.
It's the time of year to sit by the fire and read beautiful poetry with a cup of hot tea, cocoa or mulled wine. What can be cozier than that on a cold winter day?
In this episode of "Mastering Chinese Poetry," we take a look at a classic poem by Tang Dynasty (618-907) poet Bai Juyi, in which he invites a friend over for a drink on a winter day when snow is expected to fall at dusk.
Unlike other lengthier poems about history and politics, this one by one of the greatest poets of the Tang Dynasty is simply about inviting a friend over for a drink. Without any complicated metaphor or rhetoric, the poem reflects a sincere and close friendship in simple language.
Each word is exact and meaningful. The first line refers to the ancient practice of making your own rice wine at home. The green color suggests the wine is almost done and is warming on the fire, waiting to be filtered and drunk. The red clay stove in the second line keeps the wine warm for a long period and refers to the warmth of the home and friendship.
You see the concern for the friend who might be coming home in the snow in the third line then the offer of warmth and shelter in the fourth line with the invitation to come and enjoy a warm brew. One can almost picture the cozy vibe and bond of friendship shared on a chilly and snowy day.
As Auguste Rodin once said, "Beauty is everywhere. It is not that she is lacking to our eye, but our eyes which fail to perceive her." So don't forget the beauty of life and the warmth of friendship that can always beat the winter blues.