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Ebridge Cross-culture and Comprehensive Art series II-1 was published by Jinan University Press May, 2013

Listen to Shirley Reciting the Poems in Chinese and Singing Them in Chinese and English
Listen to Shirley Reciting and Singing the Poems in Chinese
Listen to Shirley Singing the Poems in English
Listen to Shirley Singing the Poems in English and in Chinese
Follow the Music to Sing the Poems by Yourself
Follow Me to Read the Poem and Chinese Characters

Original Poem, Lyrics of the Song in Chinese and Pronunciations

You can click on any Chinese Character to open the New Character Board and see its Chinese pinyin, meaning, pronunciation and follow my reading, you can also click on the links to enter the Painting Column, to see more paintings and art notes that I wrote for the poem.

小池—xiǎo chí

宋—sònɡ (960-1279)
杨万里—yánɡ wàn lǐ (1127-1206)

泉眼无声惜细流—quán yǎn wú shēnɡ xī xì líu,
树阴照水爱晴柔—shù yīn zhào shuǐ ài qínɡ róu。
小荷才露尖尖角—xiǎo hé cái lù jiān jiān jiǎo,
早有蜻蜓立上头—zǎo yǒu qīnɡ tínɡ lì shànɡ tou。

小荷才露尖尖角—xiǎo hé cái lù jiān jiān jiǎo,
早有蜻蜓立上头—zǎo yǒu qīng tínɡ lì shànɡ tóu。
立上头—lì shànɡ tou。

The Main Meaning of the Poem and the Lyrics of the Song in English

A Little Pond

By Yang Wangli (1127-1206)
Song Dynasty (960-1279)

The silent mouth of a spring cherishes the thin streamlet,
The shadow of the trees is reflected in the water, it loves the scene in the sunshine.
A little lotus leaf just appears with a sharp tip,
Quickly a dragonfly lands on it.

A little lotus leaf just appears with a sharp tip,
Quickly a dragonfly lands on it,
lands on it.

About the Poet

Yang Wanli 杨万里 yánɡ wàn lǐ was from Jizhou in today's Jiangxi Province.He was a successful candidate in the highest imperial examinations in 1154 and was a good official.

Yang Wanli was a patriot. Politically, he insisted on fighting against the aggression of the Jin (1115-1234), a northern nation. But his political views were not accepted by the Court and after trying many times, he became disheartened and withdrew from society and lived in solitude for 15 years until he died with a sorrowful heart.   

Yang Wanli was a famous poet in the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279)—There were two phases of    Song Dynasty (960- 1279), the Northern Song (960-1127) and Southern Song(1127-1279) . He was one of four greatest masters of the Southern Song and has a same reputation as You Mao, Fang Dacheng and Lu You in the history of Chinese literature.
Yang Wanli wrote over 20,000 poems of which more than 4,200 still exist.

Enjoy the Poem

Xiao Chi—A Little Pool is a poem about a small but interesting scene on a beautiful summer's day. Through depicting the mouth of a spring, a little streamlet, the shadow of a tree, several lotus leaves and a lovely dragonfly, it forms a lively picture of a little pool, showing the harmonious relationship among things in nature.

The first two lines: 泉眼无声惜细流,树阴照水爱晴柔 quán yǎn wú shēnɡ xī xì líu, shù yīn zhào shuǐ ài qínɡ róu— The silent mouth of a spring“cherishes” the thin streamlet,the shadow of a tree is reflected in the water,it “loves” the soft view on the sunny day.

With a wonderful imagination and personifying words, the poet endowed natural things with the life and the attributes of human beings: The mouth of the spring cherishes the streamlet, so that it lets the water flow silently and thinly; the shadow of the tree loves the soft and fine view in the water, so that it is reflected in the water too. These two lines create a little, exquisite and delightful scene.

The last two lines: 小荷才露尖尖角,早有蜻蜓立上头xiǎo hé cái lù jiān jiān jiǎo, zǎo yǒu qīnɡ tínɡ lì shànɡ tou—The pointed tip of a slim lotus leaf just appears before opening her body,and quickly a dragonfly lands on it.
Just like a good photographer who is able to snap some interesting picture, the two lines capture the moment when the pointed tip of a lotus leaf appears, a dragonfly immediately lands on it, and write about how both of the lotus leaf and the dragonfly“enjoy and rely on”each other.

Yang Wanli was quite interested in the natural landscape, and very often he used a clear and lively tone, an easy and popular language, to describe everyday and common views; he was especially good at capturing the character of the views and their transient moment, his poems paints some interesting pictures and they are full of strong breath of life.

With this writing style, no matter how small the things were that he wrote about, whether a little flower, a little worm or a little bird, they all have the same feelings and thoughts as people, with a vivacious, lovely, witty and humorous style.

Mr. Wang Guowei (1877-1927), a versatile scholar who made important contributions to the studies of ancient history, epigraphy, philology, vernacular literature and literary theory said:
“The subject of a poem can be big or small; we should not judge whether a poem is excellent or otherwise from the largeness or smallness of its subject.”
Relating to the title “A Little Pool”, every thing in the poem is small, but full of the feelings of humans: The mouth of the spring is small, its stream is thin, so it seems like the spring does not want it to flow out of the spring mouth; the shadow of a tree is reflected into the water, because it loves the soft sunny sky that is also reflected in the water, and wants to be with the blue sky; the lotus leaf is small, it has not opened its body, and just appears a little sharp tip; the dragonfly is small but clever, as soon as it finds the little tip of the lotus leaf, it lands on it at once… No matter whether a mouth of a spring, the shade of a tree or a dragonfly, all the things in the poem are alive and have lives and feelings just like human beings;each line is just like a picture. Many pictures together create a beautiful artistic conception.

China is a poetic country. In our daily life, we often use some lines to make our language more implicative and easier to understand. Nowadays when we want to say that only a small part of something is visible or just appears while most of it is still hidden or has not yet showed, we often say“小荷才露尖尖角 xiǎo hé cái lù jiān jiān jiǎo—The pointed tip of a slim lotus leaf just appears before opening her body ” .The little lotus leaf is often used to describe someone who is just beginning to show his ability and talent;the dragonfly is just like someone who admires such a person.


To catch those small but interesting split second in nature and to create a wonderful artistic conception with some personifying but exact words is the main character of this poem. It is also the general requirement of an artist. If we would like to be good artists, we must have a good pair of eyes that are able to find something special and beautiful among what are simple things in most people's eyes, and to note    them down in some artistic styles.

In contemporary society, many people are very busy and they rush around having no time to pay attention to the beauty that surrounds them, and they sometimes complain that there is no, or a lack of beauty in their lives.

In fact,there are beautiful things everywhere, every tree by the roadside, every blade of grass in the corner, every flower by our foot,or every cloud over our heads is beautiful if we observe it carefully. Everything has life and even some feelings if you care for it and feel or think from its point of view. “There is not a lack of beauty in the world, but a lack of eyes being able to find beauty in daily life.”

Anyway, an artist, maybe not only needs a pair of eyes that can find beauty, but also should be able to express the beauty by the most suitable artistic method, to capture the transient beauty, and express it quickly. Therefore, we have to improve ourselves on both insight and skills every day. Do you agree?

With much enjoyment of the poem, I translated it and composed a piece of music for it seperately in 2006. Then I learned to paint two pictures for it in 2010 and 2012 at China Central Academy of Fine Arts and Chinese National Academy of Arts. I really hope my effort will be of some help for you to learn Chinese culture and language.

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please write to