Alone in Her Beauty

Maintaining my proficiency in Mandarin has been a constant challenge. Instead of taking structured classes I have been trying to find ways to at least maintain what I have already learned. I am grateful that Vancouver’s great population of Mandarin speakers has given me opportunity to use the language in everyday life. One challenge I have experienced is that most of the Mandarin speakers I meet have a better English vocabulary than my Chinese vocabulary. It is only natural for people to default to the most descriptive of shared languages so that opinions and stories are more likely to convey their intended meaning. In these situations, English clearly remains the default language and highlights one of the benefits of learning in an immersion environment.

While looking for inspiration on ways to overcome such challenges, I found a Wikibook called “how to learn a language. One good piece of advice is to listen to audiobooks in your target language. So where does an English-speaker find Chinese audiobooks? A link to the free audiobooks at LibriVox of works in the public domain brought me to discover poems Tang Dynasty (618-907); specifically a work compiled in 1763 called Three Hundred Tang Poems (唐詩三百首).

To practice my pronunciation, I have been listening to a poem called 佳人 (Alone in Her Beauty) by 杜甫 (Du Fu). It helps to have a copy of the poem to read at the same time. So I have prepared a version in Simplified Chinese that I found online and added pinyin for anyone like me that would find it helpful.

佳人 (Alone in Her Beauty)

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[Download MP3 | English Translation]

绝代有佳人, 幽居在空谷。
juédàiyŏujiārén, yōujūzàikōnggŭ

自云良家子, 零落依草木。
zìyúnliángjiāzĭ, língluòyīcăomù

关中昔丧乱, 兄弟遭杀戮。
guānzhōngxīsāngluàn, xiōngdizāoshālù

官高何足论, 不得收骨肉。
guāngāohézúlùn, bùdéshōugŭròu

世情恶衰歇, 万事随转烛。
shìqíngwùshuāixiē, wànshìsuízhuănzhú

夫婿轻薄儿, 新人美如玉。
fūxùqīngbó’ér, xīnrénměirúyù

合昏尚知时, 鸳鸯不独宿。
héhūnshàngzhīshí, yuānyāngbùdúsù

但见新人笑, 那闻旧人哭。
dànjiànxīrénxiào, nàwénjiùrénkū

在山泉水清, 出山泉水浊。
zàishānquánshuĭqīng, chūshānquánshuĭzhuó

侍婢卖珠回, 牵萝补茅屋。
shìbìmàizhūhuí, qiānluóbŭmáowū

摘花不插发, 采柏动盈掬。
zhāihuābùchāfā, căibăidòngyíngjū

天寒翠袖薄, 日暮倚修竹。
tiānháncuìxiùbáo, rìmùyŭxiūzhú

One Response to “Alone in Her Beauty”

  1. Sylvia Says:

    你学习唐诗三百首!好厉害啊!现在很多中国人都不学习唐诗,但是它真的很美啊!

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