Li Yue Poem: Praying for Rain – 李约《观祈雨》









[1] 祈:求。在封建社会中,人们认为“龙”是主管行云降雨之神,因此,乡村中都建有龙王庙,遇到干旱,便举行求雨活动,到龙王庙前祈求龙王降雨。

[2] 箫管:这里泛指各种乐器。

[3] 水庙:龙王庙。

[4] 朱门:指富豪权贵之家。

[5] 咽:声塞,指乐器受潮音阻。

Praying for Rain

Li Yue

No leaves sprout from mulberry trees on drought-scorched earth;

Flutes and pipes are played to evoke the Rain God’s mirth.

But the rich see dances and hear songstresses sing;

They only fear rain clouds would damage their lute string.

This quatrain makes a contrast between the poor praying for rain and the rich afraid the rain would spoil their pleasure.


The poem “Praying for Rain” is a work by Li Yao, a poet of the Tang Dynasty. The first two lines are about the peasants praying for rain in the spring drought, and the second two lines are about the scene of singing and dancing at Jumanji. The poem exposes the class confrontation and the disparity between the rich and the poor at that time by depicting the two different lives during the long drought without rain. The peasants were worried about their livelihood for a year because of the drought, while the rich and powerful sang and sang all day long, fearing that their instruments would be damped by the rainy weather. Such a stark contrast reflects the author’s indignation at the desolate life of the rich and powerful and his deep sympathy for the hardships of the peasants. The language of the poem is subtle and euphemistic.

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