Lú Méipō (Sòng)
Méi xuě zhēng chūn wèi kěn xiáng,
sāo rén gē bǐ fèi píng zhāng.
Méi xū xùn xuě sān fēn bái,
xuě què shū méi yí duàn xiāng.
The plum blossom and snowflake both think they are the most beautiful of the early spring, both unyielding in their opinion. Poets, when composing works, find it difficult to comment on their relative superiority or inferiority, seeing no better option than to set down their brush (To be fair), plum blossoms are not as sparkling and crystal-clear as the snowflake, while the latter is not fragrant as is the plum blossom.
Both the plum blossom and the snowflake are symbols of the fading winter and approaching spring. Most poets praise both. In this poem, the poet’s portrayal of the plum blossom and snowflake – their unyielding ambition for prominence in spring, and his own inability to establish their relative superiority – is innovative in its approach.. In the last two lines, the poet cleverly indicates the futility of his endeavor by suggesting the merits and demerits of both: plum blossoms are not as white as snow, while snow is not fragrant as are plum blossoms. By means of such a description, the poet indicates the relative strengths and weaknesses that exist among people. He admonishes us to have a thorough knowledge of ourselves yet also to learn from others, allowing their strengths to compensate for our lack.
降 (xiáng) v. give in
骚人 (sāorén) n. poet
搁 (gē) v. put down
评章 (píngzhāng) n. essay or poem to appraise something
逊 (xùn) a. inferior
为难 (wéinán) v. feel awkward
公道 (gōngdào) a. fair
晶莹 (jīngyíng) a. sparkling
象征(xiàngzhēng) n. symbol
新颖 (xīnyǐng ) a. new and original
自知之明 (zì zhī zhī míng) n. a through knowledge of oneself