Li Shangyin Poem: On History – 李商隐《咏史》










[1] 北湖:玄武湖,相传南朝刘宋时湖中有黑龙出现而得名。湖的东面为钟山,湖的南面为鸡笼山。

[2] 南埭(dài):鸡鸣埭,位于鸡笼山东麓的山阜上,此处在南朝梁时建有同泰寺,为南京佛教首刹,后因侯景之乱而荒废。直到明代重建同泰寺,并更名为鸡鸣寺。

[3] 钟山:紫金山,位于南京东北十里左右,历史上曾用金山、蒋山等名字。

[4] 龙盘:张勃《吴录》中记载,刘备派诸葛亮出使吴国,诸葛亮看到金陵的景观后称赞说“钟山龙盘,石头(石头城)虎踞,帝王之宅也”。这里借用“龙盘”来指帝王之气。

On History

Li Shangyin

Water shimmers in Northern Lake and by Southern Tower,

All kings surrendered with white flags to a new power.

Three hundred years have passed like a dream one and all;

No Coiling Dragon could keep kingdoms from downfall.

The Northern Lake, Southern Tower, Mount Coiling Dragon are all in the vicinity of the capital of the six dynasties, but neither mountains nor rivers could defend the kingdom against the invading power.


“On History” is a seven-line poem written by Li Shangyin, a poet of the Tang Dynasty. The first couplet of the poem recalls the past dynasties, in which diligence and frugality made a country prosperous while luxury and corruption brought about its downfall, suggesting the key to the success or failure of all regimes. The first couplet suggests that the rise and fall of a dynasty has its own more complex and essential causes. The neck couplet goes further, arguing that what is more important than diligence and frugality is national luck and power, which is the main theme of the poem. The last couplet is a mourning for Tang Emperor Wenzong, expressing the deep concern for the fate of the country.

Previous articleDu Mu Poem: Temple of the Heroine – 杜牧《题木兰庙》
Next articleLi Shangyin Poem: On Lady Yang’s Death (Ⅱ) – 李商隐《马嵬二首》
Discover the wonders of China through studying abroad - a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to expand your horizons, immerse yourself in a rich and diverse culture, and gain a world-class education.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here