Li Shangyin Poem: On the Plain of Imperial Tombs – 李商隐《乐游原》









[1] 乐游原:在长安城南,地势较高。《长安志》:“升平坊东北隅,汉乐游庙。”注云:“汉宣帝所立,因乐游苑为名。在高原上,余址尚有。……其地居京城之最高,四望宽敞。京城之内,俯视指掌。每正月晦日,三月三日,九月九日。京城士女咸就此登赏祓禊。”

[2] 向晚:傍晚。

[3] 意不适:情绪不好。

On the Plain of Imperial Tombs

Li Shangyin

At dusk my heart is filled with gloom;

I drive my cab to ancient tomb.

The setting sun seems so sublime,

But it is near its dying time.

The Merry-making Plain was also called Plain of Imperial Tombs for emperors were buried there. The last two lines are proverbial as “He laughs best who laughs last.”


“On the Plain of Imperial Tombs” is a poem by Li Shangyin, a poet of the Tang Dynasty. This poem praises the beautiful scenery before dusk and expresses his feelings. The first two lines point out the reason for ascending to the plain: because of the discomfort at dusk and sunset, he drove up to the ancient plain; the second two lines strongly praise the beauty of the evening scenery: under the afterglow of the setting sun, the world is painted with a layer of gold. The last two lines of the poem have been popular and are very rich in meaning, with great aesthetic and ideological value. The language of the poem is clear and unadorned, and the rhythm is bright and clear, with a deep and philosophical feeling.

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