Spring Thoughts – Li Bai

Draft – simple thought, tough poem to tackle, let me come back and get it right.

delphinium in the field

Spring Thoughts

In fields, Delphinium blossoms like blue silk threads
In Qin, it is said, emerald green mulberry leaves hang low
Somewhere, a husband thinks of returning home
To his saddened wife who
Feels the spring breeze strange
As it slips unseen through her silk curtains

春思

燕草如碧絲
秦桑低綠枝
當君懷歸日
是妾斷腸時
春風不相識,
何事入羅幃

Yàn cǎo rú bì sī
Qín sāng dī lǜ zhī
Dāng jūn huái guī rì
Shì qiè duàn cháng shí
Chūn fēng bù xiāng shí
Hé shì rù luó wéi

My Thoughts on Spring Thoughts

Spring is the time to make war. It is also the time when flowers blossom in far-flung fields.

Back home in Qin, the ancient Chinese homeland, a wife longs for her absent husband. Low hanging mulberry leaves, upon which the silk worms feast, have recently unfolded in colors of emerald green, symbolizing sadness. A western wind slips though the wife’s silk curtains and she senses a strange emotion with the breeze that is felt but not seen.

In this short poem about the separation of husband and wife, Li Bai has managed to repeat the “shi” sound five times in six lines. Sadly, these homophonic puns do not translate well into English. Now, add the additional rhymes of “bi”, “di”, “gui”, “ri”, “qie”, and “he”.

This cornucopia of rhymes makes for a poem, whose meaning conveys, but whose beauty is obscured in translation:(

 

delphinium in the field

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