Celebrate Chinese New Year With These 5 Ancient Poems

Yellow Chinese dragon.

Happy Chinese New Year, 2022! (Image: Carolina Jaramillo via Dreamstime)

However you plan on celebrating the Chinese New Year, don’t forget to take some time to reflect within, and if you are like me, you might like to spend some time reading some ancient poems on the topic.

This Lunar Year in the Chinese Zodiac is the Year of the Tiger. The tiger represents courage, bravery, and strength.

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Asian girl with beanie and glasses reading a book in a tent.
Time to reflect on the year gone by and go inward with some poetry. (Image: Lê Tân via Unsplash)  

This is a time when we see filial piety take place and a time for family reunions. Chinese New Year marks the first new moon of the lunisolar calendar, traditional to the many east Asian countries which are regulated by the cycles of the moon and sun. The moon in traditional Chinese culture represents peace, prosperity, and family reunion.

5 ancient poems to welcome in Chinese New Year

1. ‘What Will the New Year Bring?’ by Tang Dynasty poet Cui Tu, born ca. 854

The road to Ba is a long, long way
Still, I make this perilous journey of ten thousand li
In the melting snow beneath jagged mountains at night
A stranger in a strange land

Alone, gradually growing distant from family and friends
And closer instead to my companions
How does one bear moving from place to place,
What will the New Year bring?

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and Black Dragon Pool, Yunnan Province, China.
Snow melts and the new year brings spring. Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and Black Dragon Pool, Yunnan province, China. (Image: Toa555 via Dreamstime) 

2. ‘New Year’s Eve Snow’ by Song Dynasty poet Lu You, 1125-1209

At midnight, the north wind brought a heavy snow; the snow that was given to us by the gods just arrived on New Year’s Eve, which showed the harvest of the coming year.

Hold the glass of the half-baked Tusu wine, it has no time to celebrate the New Year, and I should use the grass to write the peach symbol of the spring on snow.

3. ‘Chinese New Year’ by Song Dynasty poet Wang Anshi, 1021-1086

The old year has passed in the sound of firecrackers, and the Tusu wine is enjoyed with a warm spring breeze.

The rising sun shines on thousands of households, and the old peach symbols are removed and replaced with new peach symbols.

An ancient chinese poem represents light rain in spring, while a mother with a child on her back walks in an ancient Chinese town.
Light rain in early spring. (Image: Hupeng via Dreamstime)  

4. ‘Light Rain in Early Spring’ by Tang Dynasty poet Han Yu, 768-824

The rain, like [a sheen of] oil on Heaven street, falls lightly,
though one sees the color of grass from afar, if one looks closely it is not really there.

The most beautiful spring scene of the whole year is this very one,
far better than the willows that hang everywhere over the city.

Tiger Painting Victory or Defeat by Hu Zaobin
Victory or Defeat by Hu Zaobin. (Image: Public Domain via Wikimedia)

5. ‘The Tyger’ by William Blake, 1757-1827

Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies.
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp,
Dare its deadly terrors clasp!

When the stars threw down their spears
And water’d heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger Tyger burning bright,
In the forests of the night:

What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

For an in depth analysis of Blake’s poem The Tyger, visit The Society of Classical Poets.

Happy Chinese New Year to all our readers.

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