Living in the Great Plains in the state of Kansas, it is appropriate that I tackle the poem Grasses (草) by Tang poet Bai Juyi (白 居 易 ). The English translation is followed by French and then the original Chinese.
From year to year, the withered grass
In all its glory lies on the plain
Wildfires burn but do not exhaust as
Spring wind blows and once more it’s green
A distant fragrance travels the ancient road
And like a bright emerald joins the city wall
Dear friend, once again you are gone
And the lush grass is full of farewell
Année après année, l’herbe fanée
Dans toute sa splendeur se reste sur la plaine
Furieux les feux brûlent mais n’épuisent pas
Le vent du printemps souffle et une fois de plus en vert
Un parfum lointain parcourt l’ancienne route
Et comme une émeraude brillante rejoint le mur de ville
Cher ami, encore une fois vous êtes parti
Et l’herbe luxuriante est pleine d’adieux
Bai Juyi (772 – 846) described himself as a self made man, who studied hard to pass the imperial exams, gave honor to his parents, then duty and service to the imperial family, and care and love to his wife and child.
During his long career, he was the governor of three Chinese provinces. His postings included governor of Zhongzhou (818), Hangzhou (822), and, later, Suzhou. In 829 he was appointed mayor of Luoyang, the eastern capital, retiring in 842.
His insightful observations include this one: “If a Fleeting World is but a long, long dream, it matters not whether one is old or young.” At the end of spring.
I translate wangsun (王孙), the Chinese characters from the last line of the poem as dear friend. Much time could be spent interpreting these characters. They also represent a surname, a plant that tastes somewhat bitter, and literally, sun king, or grandson of the king.