Li Shangyin Poem: The End of the Sky – 李商隐《天涯》

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The End of the Sky

Li Shangyin

Spring is far, far away

Where the sun slants its ray.

If orioles have tear,

Wet highest flowers here!

This quatrain may be said to be an elegy of spring, of the poet’s life and of his era. The place is far away and the time late, even a happy bird would be saddened to shed tears on beautiful flowers.


“The End of the Sky” is a poem by Li Shangyin, a poet of the Tang Dynasty. The poem is about the author’s descent into the sky and the waning days of spring. The first line is a straightforward narrative with a deep and poignant feeling; the second line uses the “thimble” frame, repeating the word “the end of the world” to point out the meaning of the poem; the second line has a deep and twisted meaning, which is a curious warning in the middle of the twists and turns; the final line has a curling tone, which is sad and moving. The poem is just twenty words long, but it uses the technique of putting emotion in the scene and transferring emotion to objects, expressing the meaning of extreme sorrow with extremely colorful words, which is as clear as words and yet poetic and colorful, and is very typical of Li Shangyin’s artistic creation.

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