Chinese Art & Language Classroom

Chinese Classical Poem 173:Bailin Si Nan Wang - Look Over the South from Bailin Temple -- March 28,2016 / Dec, 2010 / April, 2007

Listen to Shirley singing the Poem in Chinese & English March 22, 2016
Listen to Shirley singing the Poem in English & Chinese March 22, 2016

Listen to Shirley singing the Poem in Chinese in April 12, 2007

Learning the Meaning of the Poem
Follow Shirley to Read the Poem and New Characters in Chinese

See Shirley Created Picture for the Poem March 22- 28, 2016
See Shirley Created Picture for the Poem April 22,2007


Hello, friends, have you ever travelled by boat on a brook? Today, I would like to introduce a new Chinese classical poem Bailin Si Nan Wang – Look Over the South From Bailin Temple which was created by a Tang Dynasty Poet Lang Shi Yuan, to write how he was attracted by the bell from a Temple when he was travelling by a boat on a brook, so that he went up the mountain to go to the temple through a pine forest in the rain, and what he looked over from the temple.   

At the first, let us know the poet together at the first.


In Chinese history there was a special culture phenomenon. That is, most of the great poets, calligraphers and litterateurs were not professionals, but they had their work but worked on these things as their hobbies. Except folks and the lyrics of folks, most of the authors of the poets, calligraphers and litterateurs were officers or officials, they did these as their hobbies in their free time or the necessary in their work.   

The author of this poem Lang Shining was just one of them. He was born in today’s Ding Conty of Heibei Province in Tang Dynasty (618 - 907), but there was no detail record about the years when he was born or dead. Anyway, we know that he had passed the imperial examination in 762, in the middle of the Middle Tang Dynasty and then worked on many difference positions as a official / officer, his highest position was Cishi of Ying Zhou (in today’s Hubei, its seat of the local government was in today’s Wuchang of Wuhai City), which is a feudal provincial or prefectural governor.

Most of his poems are about sending off or giving as a present. There are also some frontier-style poems and poems on landscape very good.

This Bailin Si Nan Wang – Look Over the South From the Bailin Temple is just one of little poems which is pretty, pure and fresh.

Now let us learn the poem together.

The Main Meaning of the Poem and the Lyrics of the Song in English

When I was on the brook, I heard the bell from the temple,
Berthed my boat I walked along through the pine forest,
Clouds over the green mountains after a rain,
Sketched (out) the four or five peaks in the Southwest.

Clouds over the green mountains after a rain,
Sketched (out) the four or five peaks in the Southwest.

Clouds over the green mountains after a rain,
Sketched (out) the four or five peaks in the Southwest.
In the Southwest.


Original Poem, Lyrics of the Song in Chinese and Pronunciations

You can click on any Chinese Character to open the New Character Board and see its Chinese pinyin, meaning, pronunciation and follow me to read it, you can also click on the links to enter the Painting Column, to see more paintings and art notes that I wrote for the poem.

柏林寺南望

郎士元(About 727—780)

溪上遥闻精舍钟 - Xī shàng yáo wén jīngshè zhōng,
泊舟微径度深松 - Bó zhōu wēi jìng dù shēng sōng。
- Qīng shān jì hòu yún yóu zài,
画出西南四五峰 - Huà chū xīnán sì wǔ fēng。

【Enjoy the Poem】

This is a little poem with 4 lines and 20 Chinese character. Just used the little character materials, this poem has created several dynamic pictures and reached the general aesthetic requirements of Chinese arts: there should be painting in a poem and there should be poetry in a painting, which was mentioned out clearly by Wang Wei(701 or 699-761)in Tang Dynasty (618 - 907) and be pursued by Chinese artists since that time.

Let us enjoy the poem together.

The title: 柏林寺南望 Bǎilín Sì nán wàng.
Bǎi means "cypress "; lín means "forest"; Sì means "temple".   柏林寺 Bǎilín Sì is the name of the temple. nán means "south"; wàng means "look over". The title means look over the south from the Bailin Temple.

Usually, when people read here, we would like to know what the poet has looked over. However, the poet did not write it directly but he write the first line from the time ahead he was in the Bailin Temple.

The first line: 溪上遥闻精舍钟 - Xī shàng yáo wén jīngshè zhōng。xī means "brook, rivulet, small stream"; shàng here means "above, over"; yáo means "distant, far, faraway"; wén means "heard " 精舍jīngshè means "vihara,temple";zhōng means "bell". This line means when I was on the brook, I heard the bell from the temple.

The second line:泊舟微径度深松- Bó zhōu wēi jìng dù shēn sōng. bó means "moor, berth"; zhōu means "boat"; wēi means "tiny, small"; jìng means "path, pathway"; dù means "pass, walk" shēn means "deep", here means "dense or thick" ; sōng means “pine” shēn sōng means dense pine forest. This line means, berthed my boat I walked along through the pine forest.   

The third line: -- Qīng shān jì hòu yún yóu zài。qīng means blue or green; shān means mountain, hill ; jì means   clear up after rain or snow, rain stop; hòu means after, later; yún means cloud; yóu means still; zài means stay ( there ). This line means, clouds were still there after a rain.

The last line:   画出西南四五峰 --   huà chū xīnán sì wǔ fēng。 huà means paint, draw, sketch; chū means out, leave, here means complete; huàchū means draw up, sketch out; 西xī means west; 西南xīnán means southwest; sì means four; wǔ means five; fēng means peak. This line means the flowing clouds were just like a brusher of an artist and sketch a few peaks in the southwest.

I am sure, after reading the short poem which embraced only 20 Chinese characters, there are certainly a few pictures with the sounds in your mind:

In a little boat on a small steam, a poet was attracted by the melodious sound of the bell from a far temple, so that he could not help stopping his boat and went into the tiny bath in a thick pine forest for seeking the bell. But when he was just in the forest, a summer rain dropped from the sky and wet his clothes, even though he could came back to his boat, he did not for enjoying beautiful view in the mountains by the brook and the wonder sounds of the bell. Then he got he best reward of the great nature after a long distant walk from his boat to the temple on the mountain, that is, the rain stopped and the clouds have sketched out a dynamic and fabulous picture with four or five peaks in the southwest for him.

Until now, we can imagine four or five or more single pictures and also we can imagine a grand three dimensional landscape and get the enjoyment of pretty. Right?

【Inspiration】

1.As similar as English, verbs are the most important words to express people’s thoughts and feelings in Chinese language, especially in the poems. We can not use any words else, we cannot have without verbs. In this poem, the last verb and verb phrase “ – sketch, draw, paint   ”, “ – sketch out, draw up ” endued the clouds human being’s ability and action to sketch a beautiful pictures with the four or five green peaks in the white clouds bathed in the golden sunshine after a summer rain… It sounds like the great nature is rewarding the poet for his pursuit of the beautiful things.

2.Only these people who have not only beautiful dreams in their hearts, but also can be fearless of danger and difficulties, keep walking on their travels of dream seeking firmly no matter what have happened in their long road for a long time, can they see the final beautiful future and victorious results.

I re-read this poem and created a piece of Chinese music for it and translated it into English in China in April, 2007. But then, I just sang it in Chinese. And then I first time sang it in English was in my first art exhibition in the USA on Sept 4, 2009 and got the first clapping from native English speakers and that has really encouraged me and inspirited me so much.   Since then, I have been going on the road to study, exploring and finding one of the best methods to help native English speakers to learn Chinese culture, arts and language.

With this dream, last week, I re-created a new painting with the style of blue and green mountain and water painting and re-sang the poem with my own music. I do hope that my effort will be something helpful on your studying of Chinese culture.

If you have any questions, comments and suggestions, please write to shirley@ebridge.cn . You are also welcome to publish your opinions in Message Board as well.

Shirley Yiping Zhang

Written, Sung, Translated and Recorded on March 28,2016/ Dec, 2012/April 22, 2007

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