I. Social and cultural background

  TV series of The Story of China (1-6), produced by BBC. {Not yet available in US]

  It is not very accurate, and the philosophy applied is a little out of the track. Yet it well presents some historical facts. 


II. Development of New Chinese Poetry


III. Sound and Sense: Two Cases


A. Mao's poem performed:

  Note: there is advertisement of about 15 seconds before each clip.

  1. Reading:

 video of Mao poem

  2. Singing:

Henan Opera:

Shangdong opera:

  3. Calligraphy:

one, two


  4. English version:



--to the tune1 of Chin Yuan Chun


  February 1936


  North country scene:

  A hundred leagues locked in ice,

  A thousand leagues of whirling snow.

  Both sides of the Great Wall

  One single white immensity.

  The Yellow River's swift current

  Is stilled from end to end.

  The mountains dance like silver snakes

  And the highlands charge like wax-hued elephants,

  Vying with heaven in stature.

  On a fine day, the land,

  Clad in white, adorned in red,

  Grows more enchanting.

  This land so rich in beauty

  Has made countless heroes bow in homage.

  But alas! Chin Shih-huang and Han Wu-ti

  Were lacking in literary grace,

  And Tang Tai-tsung and Sung Tai-tsu

  Had little poetry in their souls;

  And Genghis Khan,

  Proud Son of Heaven for a day,

  Knew only shooting eagles, bow outstretched

  All are past and gone!

  For truly great men

  Look to this age alone.

  From (http://www.enread.com/poems/zhongying/80941.html )


note this tr. of last stanza in the pdf on main syllabus, tr. Willis Barnstone

Yet the emperors Shihuang and Wu Di
were barely able to write.
The first emperors of the Tang and Song dynasties
were crude.
Genghis Khan, man of his epoch
and favored by heaven,
knew only how to hunt the great eagle.
They are all gone.

Only today are we men of feeling.

the poem is from 1936 or 1945. see also the note on this poem in the pdf.


  B. Xu Zhimo poem: wiki

1. Reading:


Sichuan Dialect

Raw reading:


2. Singing

3. English version:

Taking Leave of Cambridge Again

tr. Li Zhimin


                                      Quietly I am leaving as
                                      Quietly I have come

                                 Quietly I wave farewell

                                      To the gold clouds in Heaven.


                                 The gold willows on Cam River

                                      Are like brides in dusk

                                 And their reflections in the Cam

                                      Wave gently in my heart.


                                 The green plants in the Cam

                                      Are dancing elegantly in the water

                                 In the gentle caress of the Cam

                                      I would like to be turned into a grass


                                 That small pond in a green shade

                                      Is not a spring, it is a heavenly rainbow

                                 That has been melted among grasses

                                      With a sweet and colourful dream.


                                 A dream? To take a long punt-pole

                                      For searching more green in greenness

                                 To carry a boatful of star-light

                                      Singing in the marvellous starry night.


                                 But I could not sing songs,

                                      Quiet is the lute of leaving;

                                 Even the summer insects keep quiet

                                      Even Cambridge is quiet tonight.


                                 Gently I will leave as

                                      Gently I have come

                                 Gently I wave my hands

                                      Not to spoil the light of a cloud.


see Li Zhimin, "The One-Way Model of Cultural Interaction: Literary Interactions between China and Cambridge" in The Cambridge Quarterly, Volume 41, Number 1, March 2012, via Project Muse.


and here tr.  Guohua Chen

Softly I am leaving,
Just as softly as I came;
I softly wave goodbye
To the clouds in the western sky.

The golden willows by the riverside
Are young brides in the setting sun;
Their glittering reflections on the shimmering river
Keep undulating in my heart.

The green tape grass rooted in the soft mud
Sways leisurely in the water;
I am willing to be such a waterweed
In the gentle flow of the River Cam.

That pool in the shade of elm trees
Holds not clear spring water, but a rainbow
Crumpled in the midst of duckweeds,
Where rainbow-like dreams settle.

To seek a dream? Go punting with a long pole,
Upstream to where green grass is greener,
With the punt laden with starlight,
And sing out loud in its radiance.

Yet now I cannot sing out loud,
Peace is my farewell music;
Even crickets are now silent for me,
For Cambridge this evening is silent.

Quietly I am leaving,
Just as quietly as I came;
Gently waving my sleeve,
I am not taking away a single cloud.

(6 November 1928)

more on this poem here