Former AllSet Learning intern Parry recently shared this Chinese poem with me. It amazed me with its simplicity. This is a poem that even an elementary learner can get.
The poem [via Baidu Baike]:
Here it is in pinyin:
Yuǎn hé Jìn
yīhuī kàn wǒ,
yīhuī kàn yún.
nǐ kàn wǒ shí hěn yuǎn,
nǐ kàn yún shí hěn jìn.
And in English translation [also via Baidu Baike]:
Far and Near
you look at me one moment
and at clouds the next.
when you’re looking at me, you’re far away,
but when you’re looking at the clouds, how could we be nearer!
translated by Gordon T. Osing and De-An Wu Swihart.
The only potentially challenging aspects for a learner (armed with a dictionary tool) are:
- Use of 一会 (also written as 一会儿), meaning “for a moment,” which is often pronounced “yíhuì” or “yíhuìer” (make sure that you know your tone change rules!)
- Use of 时 (shí), a more formal equivalent of 的时候 (de shíhou)
I’m going to have to look into Gu Cheng more. He also has this great 2-line poem (taken from the Wikipedia article just linked to), which is basically at the intermediate level:
Hēiyè gěi le wǒ hēisè de yǎnjing
Wǒ què yòng tā xúnzhǎo guāngmíng
The dark night gave me black eyes,
I use them nonetheless seeking for the light.
There are a few words in there that would definitely need to be looked up by an intermediate learner, but the only challenging grammatical point is the use of 却 (què).
It’s so great to have material like this accessible to learners.