Ever Since You Left

Here’s my trasnaltaion of a short poem by Tang poet Zhang Jiuling (673-740):

 

Ever since you left,

I no longer tend to the damaged loom.

Thinking of you like full moon,

Losing my pure splendour night after night.

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17 Songs by the Riverbank in Autumn

 

The following is my translation of Tang poet Li Bai’s (701-762) Poem No 15 from 17 Songs by the Riverbank in autumn:

 

White hair ten thousand metres* long,

Just like the length of my sorrow.

Inside the clear mirror is seen,

Autumn frost from somewhere unknown.

 

*In the original poem, the unit of measure used is 3,000 ‘zhang’ (and one ‘zhang’ is approximately three-and-a-half metres.

Ode: Lantern Festival

A set of Lyrics written by Song dynasty poet Ouyang Xiu (1007-1072) is named simply “Lantern Festival”. Here’s my translation:

 

On the night of Lantern Festival last year,

The flower fair was bright as daylight.

Above the willows rose the moon,

And a date was made for after dark.

On the night of Lantern Festival this year,

The moon and lights are bright like before.

My love of yore is seen no more,

My shirt sleeves wet with tears in spring.

Drinking Under The Moon

 

With a jug of wine among flowers,

Alone I drink, unaccompanied.

Inviting the moon with my raised cup,

And my shadow a party of three.

The moon doesn’t understand drinking,

Shadow follows me whe’er I go.

The moon and shadow my companions,

Will enjoy life while we’re still young.

I sing in the lingering moonlight,

I dance with my shadow all over.

We are joyous when we are sober,

But go our separate ways when we’re drunk.

A wanderer ever passionless,

May just meet a partner in the clouds.

Ugly Slave

Xin Qiji (1140-1207) may not be as well known as some other Song dynasty poets, but I find Ugly Slave (my translation) cute:

 

The youth knows not the taste of sorrow,

Loves to climb the towers,

Loves to climb the towers.

Just spouting sorrow arbitarily in verses.

Having experienced the taste of sorrow,

On the tip of the tongue,

On the tip of the tongue.

Instead say, “What a fine, cool autumn day”.

Prelude to Water Melody

Song dynasty poet Su Shi, better known as Su Dongpo (1036-1101), wrote these Lyrics while he was drunk and missing his younger brother (Su Zhe) on the Mid-Autumn Festival of the year Bingzhen (1076).

I decided to do a translation of this very famous Lyrics because I like the late superstar Teresa Teng’s rendition, which has been covered by many other well-known singers, such as Faye Wong.

Prelude to Water Melody

 

When will the bright moon appear?

I raise my wine cup to ask the blue sky.

Not knowing the celestial palaces up high,

Nor what year it is tonight.

I wish to ride away with the wind and return,

Yet dread the beautiful jade towers,

So high up, unable to withstand the icy cold.

Dancing with my clear shadows,

What could be better in this earthly life?

Around the red pavilion,

Through the low laced windows,

Shining on the sleepless.

There is no room to grudge,

But why is she full when we’re apart?

We experience sadness, happiness, separation and reunion,

The moon can be dim or bright, full or crescent,

There can never be perfection.

Hoping we all enjoy long lives,

And share the lovely moonlight though we’re far apart.