mjj (flemmings) wrote,

'The evening air is autumn now'

Looking at translations of Chinese poetry because my current writer's instincts are being stubbornly and uselessly western.

At the mountain lodge of the buddhist priest Ye, waiting in vain for my friend Ding

Now that the sun has set beyond the western range,
Valley after valley is shadowy and dim
And now through pine-trees come the moon and the chill of evening,
And my ears feel pure with the sound of wind and water
Nearly all the woodsmen have reached home,
Birds have settled on their perches in the quiet mist
And still -- because you promised -- I am waiting for you, waiting,
Playing my lute under a wayside vine.

-Meng Haoran

In return for M Yang's poem on spending the evening on the Lute Terrace, and ascending to the library in the morning

Brush dust from ancient texts and read
Take a lute, wait for the moon, and play
By the peach Stream where the Han are unknown
Under the pines which retain their ranks from Ch'in

In the empty valley few come home
The blue hills are turned from the sun, cold
I envy you your refuge in this place
Long view to the white clouds' rim

-Wang Wei

And then there's Li Bai's warhorse that has thrown translator after translator. The one that made me a little giddy last night:

Thoughts in a Tranquil Night

Athwart the bed
I watch the moonbeams cast a trail
So bright, so cold, so frail,
That for a space it gleams
Like hoar-frost on the margin of my dreams.
I raise my head, --
The splendid moon I see:
Then droop my head,
And to dreams of thee --
My Fatherland, of thee!
Tags: verse

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