Farewell to Meng Haoran

 
My dear old friend who’s parting West
Beneath the Yellow Towers;
While falling on the Yangzhou lands
Are mists and springtime flowers.
 
Your orphan boat’s a distant shade,
That sails where blue skies go;
I look upon the water tides—
Until the end they flow.
 
 
By Li Bai, tr. from the Chinese by Frank Watson
 

 
送孟浩然之廣陵 

故人西辭黃鶴樓,
煙花三月下揚州。 
孤帆遠影碧空盡,
惟見長江天際流。 
 
李 白

Farewell to a Dear Friend

Within the mountain midst, a farewell scene:
I shut my door, the sun begins to set.
In spring next year the grass will turn to green,
But if you’ll come back here, I know not yet.
 
 
 
Chinese
 
送別
 
山中相送罷,
日暮掩柴扉。
春草明年綠,
王孫歸不歸。
 
 
Pronunciation
 
Sòng Bié
 
Shān zhōng xiāng sòng bà,
Rì mù yǎn chái fēi。
Chūn cǎo nián nián lǜ,
Wáng sūn guī bù guī。
 
 
Literal Character Translation

Deer Woods

Inside the empty hills I see no men,
The human words I hear are merely echoes.
Returning deep within the woods again,
The light reflects atop, where green moss grows.
 
 
 
Chinese
 
鹿柴
 
空山不見人,
但聞人語響。
返景入深林,
復照青苔上。

Earth

If you want to milk the Earth as a cow,
Then nourish the soil with seed and plow;
For when it’s set with deep grown roots,
Like a plentiful tree, it will yield many fruits.
 
 
 
Inspired by a Sanskrit poem by Bhartri-Hari, as translated in the Clay Sanskrit Library edition:
 
Rajan, dudhuksasi yadi Ksiti dhenum enam,
Ten’ adya vatsam iva lokam amum pusana;
Tasmims ca samyag anisam paripusyamane
Nana phalam phalati kalpa lat eva Bhumih.
 
King, if you want to milk this Earth as a cow,

Gazing at Heaven’s Gate

The River Chu has split the hills in two
To send the jade-brushed water east and back,
Around the two opposing hills anew
As a lonely boat sits still in a sunlit crack.
 
 
Original Chinese poem by Li Bai

A Song While I Study

Happiness is yet to come—
From low I grasp the light
To embrace the empty sky,
But no moon or stars tonight.
 
 

Subscribe to RSS - poetry in translation