Drinking at the Lake First in Sunny, then in Rainy Weather
By Su Shi
The brimming waves delight the eyes on sunny days;
The dimming hills present rare view in rainy haze.
West Lake may be compared to Beauty of the West,
Whether she is richly adorned or plainly dressed.
This is a poem describing the beautiful scenery of the West Lake. The first two matched lines portray different scenes of the West Lake in sunny and rainy days, and “it’s fine in sunny days” and “also wonderful in the rain” clearly show that the poet likes the scenes in both sunny and rainy days. The last two lines, with a simile, indicate that the West Lake is like the beauty Xishi who was always incomparably elegant, refined and charming whether she made up heavily or lightly.
The poet explains the theme “true beauty” with a simile in the poem. What is called “true beauty” is the intrinsic beauty of a thing in itself that neither relies on nor is obscured by extrinsic things. It is indelible. Xishi was born beautiful, so she was “always attractive whether she made up lightly or heavily.’’The poet compares the West Lake to Xishi, because it has such picturesque and pleasant scenes that it is beautiful and unique whether in fine or rainy days. The poet compares the beauty of a woman to that of the scenery, and the conception is unique. This short poem describes two kinds of enchanting scenes in sunny and rainy days of the West Lake to expound a profound truth with a simple and vivid simile, and sincerely praise and confirm those good things in nature. Therefore, this scenery depicting poem can be considered as quite a new approach to the subject.