Farewell, Wang Wei

Translation Note. Songbie, 送别, “Farewell.” Sometimes translated as “Parting Song.”Wang Wei does not identify Nanshan, literally, southern mountains. Likely they are nearby Zhongnan Mountains, sometimes called the Taiyi Mountains, just to the south of the war torn capital of Chang’an. Zhōng nán shān, 終南山. (But see note below.) Dismount while I offer you some wine,I…

Orchid and Orange, 2

Zhang Jiuling’s title for this poem 感 遇 (gǎn​ yù) means a sigh, a lament in gratitude for good fortune, and not, as it is given, Orchid and Orange. There is an orange tree in the poem and a peach and a plum, but no orchid, so go figure. I cannot argue with a thousand…

Spring Thoughts – Li Bai

Draft – simple thought, tough poem to tackle, let me come back and get it right. Spring Thoughts In Yan, like blue silk threads, the grass grows In Qin, it is said, mulberry leaves of emerald green hang low Somewhere, a husband dreams of returning homeTo his heartbroken wife whoFeels the spring breeze strangeAs it…

Spring Night, I hear a flute – Li Bai

Draft… Spring Night, I Hear the Flute From whose house does the sound of a jade flute flies Scattered by the Spring breeze filling Luoyang? In the middle of the night I hear the willow unfolding Who does not feel these old garden feelings In 725 or thereabouts, while in his mid-twenties, Li Bai left…

Goose, goose, goose

A seven year old boy writes a poem about a squawking goose paddling in a pond. 鹅 鹅 鹅曲项向天歌白毛浮绿水红掌拨清波 咏鹅, 骆宾王 Goose, goose, gooseNeck bent, singing to the skyWhite feathers floating on green waterRed feet paddling through the waves Singing Swan, Luo Binwang Luo Binwang One of the first poems learned by Chinese children, Ode…

Border Songs, 1 of 4, revisited

A poet plays over in his mind the words and images of his poem. So too, does the translator. Let us then revisit Lu Lun’s Border Songs beginning with number one of four. Hawk feathers flutter from his golden arrow His woven silk flag waves like the tail like a swallow One man rises to…

Meeting a Messenger on his Way to the Capital

Meeting a messenger headed east As I look down the road, I long for my home far to the east, A clock sounds, my sleeves are wet with tears On horse we meet, and I no paper, no pen So, I rely on a gentleman’s word, tell them all is safe and calm Or, Gone…

Deer Park

  Deer Park A lonely mountain keeps its secrets And yet, I hear someone softly speaking Where light shines in the forest deep And the sun delights in seeking green moss 鹿 柴 空 山 不 見 人 但 聞 人 語 響 返 景 入 深 林 復 照 青 苔 上 Rhyme: abab…

Mixed Verse – Wang Wei

Mixed Verse You, who come from the old country Tell me what is happening On that cold day you left, did you see my silken paintings, and Were the first plum flowers blossoming yet English translation of Wang Wei’s poem 雜 詩 The title, 雜 詩, is variously translated as mixed verse, mixed lines, miscellaneous poetry,…

Coming Home, He Zhizhang

Small and young I left home, big and old I return Speaking in my village voice with hair grown thin Children, seeing and hearing me, wonder, who is this man? And smiling, ask, sir, why do you come? He Zhizhang (659-744), a Tang poet, had the good fortune to live to the age of 85…