Chinese and Japanese Poetry

By: McKenzie Johnson & Kelly Aiello

"Sent to Li Po as a Gift" (Chinese Poem)

Translated by: Florence Ascough and Amy Lowell

Autumn comes,

We meet each other.

You still whirl about as a thistledown in the wind.

Your Elixir of immortality is not yet perfected

And, remembering Ko Hung, you are ashamed.

You drink a great deal,

You sing wild songs,

Your days pass in emptiness.

Your nature is a spreading fire,

It is swift and strenuous.

But what does all this bravery amount to?


We chose this poem because Autumn is our favorite season and the title picture in the textbook is very captivating. The imagery in the poem also interested us in choosing this particular poem. Both of us have a personal connection especially in lines 6-9.


The author accuses Li Po of living an aimless life with no valuable achievemnet. Li Po has not discovered the Elixir of Immortality and drowns herself in emptiness and pointless actions, such as drinking.

Literary Elements


  • Ko Hung - Chinese philosopher and alchemist who tried to create an Elixir of Immortality
  • Elixir of Immortality - sought by alchemists in the Middle Ages, believed to prolong life indefinitely


  • "Your nature is a spreading fire"


  • "You still whirl around as a thistledown in the wind."

Related Artwork

Big image
Girl Laying on Grass

Pierre-Auguste Renoir



The girl laying in the grass represents a girl who is very sad. In the poem, the girl is represented as ashamed but her "nature is a spreading fire".

Related Song

Band: Wild Child

Song Title: "Whiskey Dreams"

Wild Child - Whiskey Dreams


This song describes an alcoholic that attempts to make a change in their life, but in result fails. This compares with Li Po and her drinking, which causes her to live a pointless life. In the song it says, "Tried my best to go out last night saw some people, didn't care couldn't even try." These lyrics relate to Li Po and how she spent majority of her time working on the Elixir rather than experiencing worthwhile things.

"Ki Tsurayuki" (Japanese Poem)

Translated by: Geoffrey Bownas

When I went to visit

The girl I love so much,

That winter night

The river blew so cold

That the plovers were crying.


The poem, "Ki Tsurayuki" creates a sorrowful mood, which created a emotional and nostalgic response. We both can personally relate to the story through similar occurrences that have happened in our lives. We feel like the meaning behind the poem can relate to everyday life and expresses events that may happen eventually in everyone's life.


The author visits the woman that he loves in the winter, but something sad and despondent occurs. The message entails that love sometimes includes pain and sorrow. The birds crying and the cold winter describe how heartache can feel very numb and harrowing.

Literary Elements


  • "That winter night

    The river blew so cold

    That the plovers were crying."


  • "The plovers were crying."

Related Artwork

Big image


In the poem, the setting takes place in the winter near a river. The color scheme of this piece creates a mood of romance and love as well as despair and regret. The reflection of the trees and sunset in the water, represents the poet's reflection of the wintery day.

Related Song

Artist: Taylor Swift

Song Title: Back To December

Taylor Swift - Back To December


The artist sings about memories of a relationship that took place in the winter. She sings about returning to the place that they broke up and how she wished their relationship could have gone better. The artist sings, "And then the cold came, the dark days when fear crept into my mind. You gave me all your love and all I gave you was 'Goodbye'". This connects to lines 3-4 of the poem when the author describes the coldness of the day.