Year: 
2019

Climbing the Bird Watch

 
Wang Zhihuan (688-742)
 
 
The white sun sets beyond the mountain line,
The Yellow River joins the ocean’s flow—
If poor but want a thousand-mile view,
Ascend a flight of stairs and it will show.
 
 

Chinese
 
登鸛雀樓
王之渙
 
白日依山盡
黃河入海流
欲窮千里目
更上一層樓
Pronunciation
 
Dēng Guàn Què Lóu
Wáng Zhīhuàn
 
Bái rì yī shān jìn
Huáng hé rù hǎi liú
Yù qióng qiān lǐ mù
Gēng shàng yī céng lóu

 
 
Transliteration and Notes
 
Scale Crane Sparrow Building
 
White sun sets-in mountain limit
Yellow River enters sea flow
Desire poor thousand mile view
Another go-up one story building
 
     “White sun” means daytime or just “sun.” Note that the Chinese “mile” or “li” is about 0.31 American miles, so a “thousand miles” is about 310 American miles or 500 kilometers. This measure has varied over time, but figuratively, it just means “a great distance.”
     This poem makes the simple observation that you do not need to be rich to enjoy a great view: just climb a tall building. Note the parallelism in the poem, which was an attractive quality in Chinese poetry: the “white sun” vs. the “Yellow River,” the “mountain line” vs. the “ocean’s flow,” and the “thousand-mile view” vs. the building he’s watching it from.
 

Author of original: 
Wang Zhihuan
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