Ode to the Goose
By Luo Binwang
Goose, goose, goose
Neck bent, singing to the sky
White feathers floating on green water
Red feet paddling clear waves
One of the first poems learned by Chinese children, Ode to the Goose was written by Luo Binwang at the age of seven. His goose is the domestic goose that is found about the household and on the village pond.
The pinyin for goose is a long “e” which would mimic the sound of the goose to a child’s ear. The Chinese character for clear is 清, which may also translate as pure, clean, or still, giving a deeper meaning to the poem that does not readily translate to English.
Again sadly, poetic resonance is lost, as shown by the pinyin translation:
É, é, é
Qū xiàng xiàng tiān gē
Bái máo fú lǜ shuǐ
Hóng zhǎng bō qīng bō
Original Chinese Characters
鹅 鹅 鹅
Compare the English with the French translation.
Oie, oie, oie
Cou plié, chantant au ciel
Plumes blanches flottant sur l’eau verte
Pieds rouges, pagayer, clair, vagues