Year: 
2012
Translation

Wang Wei (701-761)

王維
Zhongnan Mountain Retreat

終南別業


In the middle of my life
I was fond of the Buddhist Way;
中歲
頗好道
now my life is late and I’m at home,
along the Southern Mountain.

晚家
南山陲
Desiring this
lovely, solitary life,
興來
美獨往
superb of scenery—life’s affairs
now gone from awareness.

勝事
空自知
Walking until
the water’s edge,
行到
水窮處
I sit and watch
as clouds rise up and appear.

坐看
雲起時
By chance, I happen
upon an aged forest man;
偶然
值林叟
we talk and laugh,
not returning—for we have time.
談笑
無還期


Notes:

     In this poem, Wang Wei talks about his life retired from worldly affairs, living in the mountains, and the peace he finds. The Southern Mountain is another name for the Zhongnan Mountain, which literally means Final Southern Mountain. The fifth and sixth verses are frequently quoted in China.




Original Chinese

Traditional
Simplified
Pronunciation



王維
王维
Wáng Wéi
終南別業
终南别业
Zhōng nán bié yè



中歲頗好道,
中岁颇好道,
Zhōng suì pō hào dào,
晚家南山陲。
晚家南山陲。
Wǎn jiā nán shān chuí.
興來美獨往,
兴来美独往,
Xìng lái měi dú wǎng,
勝事空自知。
胜事空自知。
Shèng shì kōng zì zhī.
行到水窮處,
行到水穷处,
Xíng dào shuǐ qióng chù,
坐看雲起時。
坐看云起时。
Zuò kàn yún qǐ shí.
偶然值林叟,
偶然值林叟,
Ŏu rán zhí lín sǒu,
談笑無還期。
谈笑无还期。
Tán xiào wú huán qī.
                                                                                          

Literal Notes

王維
King Only=Wang Wei(701-761)
終南別業
Zhong/end/finally Nan/south other/another/separate property/line-of-business/profession/trade

[Zhong Nan = Mt. Zhongnan, near Xi’an, Shaanxi.]
[other/another property/line-of-business=refers to the poet’s house near Mt. Zhongnan.]

中歲頗好道,
Middle/within/among/in/center/during/midst years(of age) rather/quite/considerably fond-of/prone-to/have-a-tendency-to/good/excellent/fine
Dao(of Daoism)/direction/way/road/path/principle /truth/morality/reason
[fond-of Dao = “do not tell me...,” “could it be that?”]
晚家南山陲。
Late/evening/night home/family South Mountain frontier/border
[South Mountain = another name for Mt. Zhongnan]
興來美獨往,
Feeling-to-do/desire-to-do/excitement/interest-in
come/arrive/ever-since/next satisfactory/beautiful/pleasing alone/single/solitary/independent go/to/towards
[satisfactory/beautiful/pleased-with-oneself = each time]
勝事空自知。
Superb(of vista)/beautiful(scenery)/ wonderful(view) matter/thing/item/work/affairs empty/unoccupied/leisure/free-time  self/from/since  know/be-aware-of/perceive/comprehend
行到水窮處,
Walk/go/travel/do to-go/arrive/up-to/until water/river  exhausted/poor/destitute/impoverished place/location/spot/reside/dwell
坐看雲起時。
Sit/take-a-seat/ride  see/look-at/watch/consider clouds  rise/appear time/period/when
偶然值林叟,
Accidental/coincidental right/thus/like-this happen-to forest/woods/grove old-man/old-gentleman/elder
[Accidental  right/thus/like-this = occasional, by chance, incidentally, randomly]
談笑無還期。
Talk/converse/chat/discuss/speak/conversation laugh/smile no/not-to-have return/still/yet time/period