[translation] 登鹳鹊楼 (Ascending White Stork Tower) by 王之涣 (Wang ZhiHuan)



Ascending White Stork Tower
by Wang ZhiHuan

The white sun sets behind the mountains,
the yellow rivers flow into the sea.
If you want to view limitless expanses,
ascend one more level.

I find this poem really interesting. The final two lines literally say, “If you want to see further, go up one floor.” I made it a bit more formal to give a hint as to how I read the poem.

My Chinese teacher and I discussed this poem’s meaning – how the world is vast, but we can only see a small piece of it. If we wish to see more, we need to “ascend”. What does ascension entail? I believe ascension is about knowledge – knowledge about the self and the world. With wisdom and learning, our perspective on life and circumstance widens. We are able to see more.

In conclusion, this poem suggests something that many folks forget – the world is a great place, but our vision of it can change as we learn and experience more.

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