Thoughts on New Years Eve – Cui Tu

When Cui Tu wrote this poem in the latter half of the 9th century, China was in the midst of rebellion and the end of the Tang dynasty was near.

What will the new year bring?

迢遞三巴路
羈危萬里身
亂山殘雪夜
孤獨異鄕人

漸與骨肉遠
轉於僮僕親
那堪止漂泊
明日歲華新

除夜有懷, 崔塗

The road to Ba is a long, long way
Still, I make this perilous journey of ten thousand li
In the melting snow beneath jagged mountains at night
A stranger in a strange land

Alone, gradually growing distant from family and friends
And closer instead to my companions
How does one bear moving from place to place,
What will the New Year bring?

— Sending Home Feelings on New Year’s Eve, Cui Tu, born ca. 854

Ba

Poet, Cui Tu (born 854) gives us his thoughts of travel in a distant land, far from family and home. Historically, the State if Ba, 巴 was east of Sichuan. This route was the one taken by the Emperor Xuanzong during the An Lushan Rebellion (755 to 763) and so, symbolized a long, difficult journey into exile. The li is a Chinese unit of distance, about 500 meters or 1640 feet. Ten thousand li is a metaphoric term.

New Year Eve

Chúyè, New Year’s Eve. The Chinese Lunar New Year will fall on Friday, February 16, 2018. Revising this poem in January 2022, I note that New Year’s Day falls on Monday, January 31, and New Year’s Eve on the 30th.

Other translations

No translation is ever exact and I have taken a liberty or two. American poet Witter Bynner included Thoughts on New Year’s Eve in his translation of Tang poetry, Heng-tʻang-tʻui-shih, The Jade Mountain: A Chinese Anthology (New York: Knopf, 1929.

Pinyin

Chúyè yǒu huái

tiáo dì sān bā lù
jī wēi wànlǐ shēn
luàn shān cánxuě
yè gūdú yì xiāng rén

jiàn yǔ gǔròu yuǎn
zhuǎn yú tóngpú qīn
nà kān zhǐ piāobó
míngrì suì huá xīn

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