Year: 
2011

This poem was written by Wang Wei for his friend, Qiwu Qian, who failed the imperial examination, which was an extremely difficult examination required to become a government official. The first part of the poem is saying that in an era of good leadership, the worthy people should attempt to serve society in government (seek the peak) and not remain isolated. He alludes to a famous hermit who lived in isolation when he references the East Mountain hermit.

The next part talks about the time Qiwu Qian stayed in the capital, from spring to spring. The Golden Gate is where the Emperor chose the new officials; saying it is was too far implies he failed his exam. Finally, it talks about the farewell feast and his return home, and gives encouragement that he should still feel like he has friends despite failing the examination.

My Translation

By Wang Wei  (701-761 AD)
王維
Seeing Off Qiwu Qian
After Failing the Exam and Returning Home

送綦毋潛
落第還


In a sagely era
one must not be hidden

聖代
無隱者
Worthy souls
must go and seek
the peak

英靈
來歸
The East Mountain’s
hermits too like you
must obey this command

遂令
東山
And give up
tending
their herbs

不得
顧採
***


You’ve already reached
the Golden Gate,
but it was too far

既至
金門
Who says
you're not capable of this path?

孰雲
吾道非
At the Yangzi River
of spring last
you went to the Festival of Cold Food

江淮
度寒食
And at the Yellow River
now you mend
this spring’s clothes

京洛
春衣
***


I make a feast
by Chang’an Road

置酒
長安道
And we’re of the same mind,
together as we part

衕心
與我違
You’ll undertake your travel,
sailing in a boat of cassia

行當
浮桂棹
And before long
you’ll brush away the bramble
by your door

未幾
拂荊
The distant trees
will line your travels

遠樹
帶行客
And the falling sun will light
the lonely towns

孤城
當落暉
Your plan was impeded
and following
of no use

吾謀
不用
But you must not feel
that your friends
are few

勿謂
知音

Original Chinese

Traditional
Simplified
Pronunciation



王維
Wáng Wéi
送綦毋潛
落第還
送綦毋潜
落第还乡
Sòng qí wú qián
luò dì huán xiāng



聖代無隱者,
圣代无者,
Shèng dài // wú yǐn zhě,
英靈盡來歸,
英灵尽来
Yīng líng // jǐn lái guī,
遂令東山客,
遂令山客,
Suì lìng // dōng shān kè,
不得顧採薇。
不得采薇。
Bù dé // gù cǎi wēi.
既至金門遠,
既至金门远
Jì zhì // jīn mén yuǎn,
孰雲吾道非?
孰云吾道非?
Shú yún // wú dào fēi?
江淮度寒食,
江淮度寒食,
Jiāng huái // dù hán shí,
京洛縫春衣。
京洛春衣。
Jīng luò // fèng chūn yī.
置酒長安道,
置酒安道,
Zhì jiǔ // cháng ān dào,
衕心與我違;
同心与我
Tóng xīn // yǔ wǒ wéi;
行當浮桂棹,
行当浮桂棹,
Háng dang // fú guì zhào,
未幾拂荊扉。
未几拂扉。
Wèi jǐ // fú jīng fēi.
遠樹帶行客,
远树带行客,
Yuǎn shù // dài xíng kè,
孤城當落暉。
孤城当落
Gū chéng // dāng luò huī.
吾謀適不用,
适不用,
Wú móu // shì bù yòng,
勿謂知音稀?
知音稀?
Wù wèi // zhī yīn xī?

Literal Translation

王維
King Preserve [Wang Wei  (701-761 AD)]
送綦毋潛
落第還
See-off gray not hidden
fall grade still village
[gray not hidden = Qiwu Qian; fall grade = fail an exam; still village = return home]


聖代無隱者,
Sage era not hidden one-who-is
英靈盡來歸,
Brave soul finished come return
遂令東山客,
Satisfy cause east mountain traveler
不得顧採薇。
Not obtain look-after pluck fern
[not obtain = must not]
既至金門遠,
Already reach golden gate far
孰雲吾道非?
Who say impede path oppose?
江淮度寒食,
Yangzi river event cold meal
[event cold meal = Cold Food Festival]
京洛縫春衣。
Capital river mend spring clothes
置酒長安道,
Lay-out wine long peaceful road
[long peaceful road = Chang’an Road]
衕心與我違;
Same heart/mind together-with our parting
行當浮桂棹,
Travel undertake float cassia boat
未幾拂荊扉。
Not-yet few brush-away thorns door
[not-yet few = soon, before long]
遠樹帶行客,
Distant tree girdle travel traveler
孤城當落暉。
Lonely town just-at fall sunshine
吾謀適不用,
Impede plan follow no use
[no use = need not]
勿謂知音稀?
Must-not sense perceive sound sparse
[perceive sound = intimate friend, soul mate]