Chinese and Japanese Poetry

Kaleb Lee and Matt Forbes || English 2 || April 28th, 2015

Chinese Poetry

"Shadow Replies" by T'ao Ch'íen

Who can speak of immortality when simply

staying alive makes such sad fools of us?

We long for those peaks of the immortals,

but they’re far-off, and roads trail away

early. Coming and going together,

we’ve always shared the same joys and sorrows.

Resting in shade, we may seem unrelated,

but living out in the sun, we never part.

This togetherness isn’t forever, though.

Soon, we’ll smother in darkness. The body

can’t last, and all memory of us also ends.

It sears the five feelings. But in our

good works, we bequeath our through

generations. How can you spare any effort?

Though it may be true wine dispels sorrow,

how can such trifles ever compare to this?

Literary Elements

Metaphor: "Resting in shade, we may seem unrelated, but living out in the sun, we never part"

Amplification: "We long for those peaks of the immortals, but they're far-off, and the roads trail away."


The main idea of the poem "Shadow Replies" is the concept of the life cycle. The poem speaks about reminiscencing and how the lives and memories of a person is carried through their generations.

Explanation of Selection

The reason we chose this poem is because it talks about legacy and the continuation of a persons life which allowed us to connect the poems ideas. Another reason we chose the poem is because it creates a nostalgic feeling towards the past.

Japanese Poetry

Haiku by Matsuo Basho

The sun’s way:

hollyhocks turn toward it

through all the rain of May

Clouds come from time to time-

and bring to men a chance to rest

from looking to the moon

The cuckoo-

Its still stretching

Over the water

Seven sites were veiled

In mist-then i heard.

Mii Temple’s bell.

Summer grasses-

All that remains

Of soldiers’ visions

Literary Element

There is an allusion to Mii temples bell, which is known for its beautiful tone and sound, located near Otsu.


The poem is mainly about the a day that transitions over to night. The setting of the poem is in Japan during the early months of the summer season.

Explanation of Selection

This poem has a feeling of remorse, which really speaks to me. It really makes me think, that one day, i’ll look back on stuff that i thought was truly important, and realize that it wasn’t, and I should dedicate more time to what’s really important.


The Lion King - The Circle Of Life (HD)
Owl City - Fireflies

Explanation of Song Selection

The song "The Circle of Life" relates to the Chinese poem because both display the theme of the cycle of life.

The song "Fireflies" relates to the Japanese poem because it has similar themes/ideas of a summertime night.