Bamboo RetreatWang Wei (692-761)
Alone I sit within the bamboo grove
And lift my lute to strum and hum along;
Within this depth of woods a man forgets —
The bright moon comes to mix its light with song.
Zhú Lǐ Guǎn
Dú zuò yōu huáng lǐ
Dàn qín fù cháng xiào
Shēn lín rén bù zhī
Míng yuè lái xiāng zhào
Transliteration and Notes
Bamboo Interior Building
Alone sit secluded bamboo-grove interior
Play lute carry-out long hum
Deep woods man not know
Bright moon comes each-other shines
“Not know” can be figurative for not admitting defeats, hardships, etc.
In 756, Wang lived in the capital of Chang’an when it was captured by rebels during the An-Shi rebellion (755-763). Although most of the court and government officials had already fled, Wang was sick and unable to leave, so he was captured and taken to the rebel capital of Luoyang. He was then given an official title and considered part of the rebels.
Once the Tang recaptured Luoyang, Wang was arrested and charged with being a traitor. Thanks to the intervention of his brother, Wang Jin, a powerful official and leader against the rebels, as well as poems written during captivity, he was pardoned and eventually restored to a government position.