Li Shangyin Poem: To the Willow Tree – 李商隐《柳》









[1] 柳:这里应指曲江柳。长安城南曲江盛产柳树,而且与乐游苑相邻,是京城士女游览之所。

[2] 东风:这里指春天之风。古人把四方与四季相对应:春对东,夏对南,秋对西,冬对北。

[3] 乐游春苑:乐游苑,又称乐游原。位于今西安城南大雁塔东北的高地,本来为汉宣帝时的乐游庙。乐游苑是长安城最高处,登苑可眺望全城,每到三月三日(上巳)、九月九日(重阳),京城士女多至此登赏,诗人也著有众多吟咏乐游苑的诗篇,李商隐就有一首《登乐游原》。

To the Willow Tree

Li Shangyin

Having caressed the dancers in the vernal breeze,

You’re ravished amid the merry-making trees.

How can you wail until clear autumn days are done

To shrill like poor cicadas in the setting sun?

The poet compares himself to the willow ravishing in spring and wailing in autumn.


“To the Willow Tree” is a poem written by Li Shangyin, a poet of the Tang Dynasty, in which he expresses his sadness for the willow and his secret feelings. This poem is about the willow in autumn, but the poet does not start from the immediate, but first recalls its spring scene, and then returns to the willow in front of him. The poem is rich in words, hidden but not revealed, and subtle and euphemistic. The poem does not contain the word “willow”, but it is about willow in every line, and every line is a scene, and every line is about people, expressing the lamentation for the sparse and declining autumn willow. In the poem, the autumn willow, which has undergone disparate changes between the present and the past, is a vivid portrayal of the poet’s self-lamentation of his life.

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