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How To Write a Chinese Poem

A well-known Japanese poet was asked how to compose a Chinese poem. "The usual Chinese poem is four lines," he explained. "The first line contains the initial phrase; the second line, the continuation of that phrase; the third line turns from this subject and begins a new one; and the fourth line brings the first three lines together. A popular Japanese song illustrates this: Two daughters of a silk merchant live in Kyoto. The elder is twenty, the younger, eighteen. A soldier may kill with his sword, But these girls slay men with their eyes."

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