26 August 2022

杜牧 Du Mu: 贈別 二首 其一 Given on Parting, I of Two


Du Mu: Given on Parting, I of Two


1        O slim and slender, so fair, so fine --- thou, barely ten and three;

2        Like a nutmeg in bud in early March, at the tip of a sprig of the tree.

3        On the miles of streets of Yangzhou City, in vernal breezes mild,

4        Of all, with their bead-screens rolled open, none be equal to thee.


Translated by Andrew W.F. Wong (Huang Hongfa)     譯者: 黃宏發

27 August 2021 (revised 28.8.2021; 2.9.2021; 3.9.2021)

Translated from the original - 杜牧: 贈別 二首 其一


1        娉娉嫋嫋十三餘

2        豆蔻梢頭二月初

3        春風十里揚州路

4        捲上珠簾總不如




*Form, Metre, and Rhyme:  The original is a 7-character quatrain 七言絕句 with a caesura after the fourth character.  This English rendition is in heptameter (7-beat lines) with a caesura after the fourth beat.  The rhyme scheme is AAxA as in the original.


*Line 1:  I have used  the “s” alliteration (“slim - slender”) to render the reduplication of (petite), and the “f” alliteration (“fair – fine”) to render the reduplication of (beautiful).  十三餘 (a little more than 13) is rendered as “thou, barely ten and three” to create the “three (line 1) – tree (line 2) - thee (line 4)” rhyme.


*Line 2:  I have taken 豆蔻 to refer to “nutmeg” (肉豆蔻) which is a tree, and not “cardamom” (小豆蔻) which is an herb.  Here, “nutmeg” stands for the flower of the tree.  I have, therefore, added “in bud” to render 豆蔻.  梢頭 is translated literally as “at the tip of  a sprig of the tree”; and 二月初 (second; month; beginning) is rendered as “in early March” as the lunar second month is roughly the solar month of March.


*Line 3:  揚州路 (Yangzhou; road)  is taken to mean the roads and streets in the city of

Yangzhou, not a road named Yangzhou or a road into or out of Yangzhou; and 十里 (10 ‘li’ =

roughly 3 miles) is taken to refer to the extent of the roads and streets (and not the distance of

a particular road) and is rendered simply as “miles”.  十里揚州路 is, therefore, rendered as “On

the miles of streets of Yangzhou City”.   春風 (spring; wind) is rendered as “in vernal breezes

mild” with “mild” added for its “ai” sound to break, at line 3, the “three (1) – tree (2) – thee (4)”



*Line 4:  捲上珠簾 is translated rather literally as “with their bead-screens rolled open” with “rolled open” to translate 捲上 (rolled; up).  總不如 is rendered as “Of all … none be equal to thee”, with “to thee” (implied in the original) added to echo “thou” in line 1 and to make plain the poem is addressed to the lady concerned.      


31 July 2022

王昌齡 Wang Changling: 春宮曲 A Song of Spring in the Palace

This was first posted on 23 June 2022, but was inadvertently deleted today (31 July 2022).  Here, I am re-posting it.

Wang Changling (698-757): A Song of Spring in the Palace


1                Last night, to Dew Pond came vernal breezes, sending peach-blooms a-blow.

2                Tonight, at the front of Undying Palace, a full moon, from on high, shines so.

3                The emperor’s sister’s song-dance lady, now his majesty’s newfound love,

4                For the odd spring chills from out of the screens, a brocaded robe to bestow.  


Translated by Andrew W.F. Wong (Huang Hongda)    譯者: 黃宏發

15 October 2021 (revised 18.10.2021; 20.10.2021) (polished 20.6.2022)

Translated from the original - 王昌齡: 春宮曲


1                昨夜風開露井桃

2                未央前殿月輪高

3                平陽歌舞新承寵

4                簾外春寒賜錦袍




*Form, Metre, and Rhyme:  The original is a 7-character quatrain with a caesura after the fourth character.  This English rendition is in heptameter (7 beats or feet) with a caesura after the fourth beat.  The rhyme scheme of the original is AAxA which is followed in this English rendition.


*Line 1:  (wind) is rendered as “came vernal breezes”, with “breezes” used and “vernal” added to soften the winds and to state it is springtime.  I suggest reading the word “came” unstressed.  The third character (open) means 開花 (bloom or blow), and the seventh character (peach) refers to peach flowers (not peach trees nor their fruits), thus, is rendered as “sending peach-blooms a-blow”.  露井 (uncovered, or dew; water well) is taken to refer to an uncovered well, but which can be as extensive as a pond, hence, (i) uncovered? and (ii) to collect dew and rainwater? I wonder!  I have, therefore, decided to include in my rendition the meaning of both “uncovered” and “dew”, and have turned the common noun 露井 into a proper noun, not transliterated as “Lujing”, but rendered as “Dew Pond”, with the word “Dew” to cover the meaning of as “dew” and with the word “Pond” to hint at the meaning of as “uncovered” because of the size of the uncovered well to be named “Pond”.


*Line 2:  未央 (no; demise) (pronounced “Weiyang”) is the name of a palace in the Han dynasty (BCE 206 -CE 220) and is rendered as “Undying Palace” rather than transliterated as “Weiyang Palace”.  前殿 (front; chamber) refers to the front chamber of the said palace and is rendered as “at the front of (Undying Palace)”.  月輪 (moon; wheel) means “a full moon” (the moon is round like a wheel) and is rendered as such, and (high) is translated literally as “from on high”.  To begin the line, I have added “Tonight” to clarify the poem’s 2-night timeframe as I see it.  And to end the line, I have added “shines so” (which meaning is implied) to fit the rhyme scheme.


*Line 3:  This line, in effect the whole poem, is an allusion to the love story of Emperor Wudi 武帝 (BCE 156-87) of the Han dynasty and the emperor’s sister’s songstress Wei Zifu 衛子夫 who was favoured and called to the palace by the emperor.  歌舞 refers not to “singing and dancing”, but to the person performing the song and dance, and is rendered here as “song-dance lady”.  平陽 (level; sun) refers to Princess Pingyang 平陽公主 who was Emperor Wudi’s elder sister, the princess being married to the Marquis of Pingyang 平陽侯.  For clarity, 平陽 is here not transliterated as “Princess Pingyang”, but rendered as “The emperor’s sister('s)”.  新承寵 (newly; receiving; grace) is rendered as “now his majesty’s newfound love” after considering “newfound mate”.


*Line 4:  春寒 (spring; cold) is translated literally as “spring chills”.  簾外 (screen; outside) is not taken to mean “chills outside the screens” (= chills outdoors), but interpreted to mean “chills from outside the screens” (= chills from outside coming indoors).  簾外春寒 is, thus, rendered as “For the odd spring chills from out of the screens”, with “from” added to accord with this interpretation, and “odd” (= irregular, hence, infrequent) added to heighten the emperor’s grace.  賜錦袍 (bestow; brocade; robe) is translated literally as “a brocaded robe to bestow”, with an unstressed syllable “-ded” added between “brocade” and “robe”, to produce a better flow of stressed and unstressed syllables.


杜牧 Du Mu: 將赴吳興登樂遊原一絕 Shall Proceed to Wuxing, I ascend the Leyou Heights: A Quatrain

Today, I am posting my rendition of 杜牧 Du Mu's "Shall Proceed to Wuxing, I Ascend the Leyou Heights: A Quatrain".  Differing interpretations of the poem abound.  My own interpretation which is apparent in my rendition itself and the accompanying notes is:  The poet regards himself as a man of ability, stuck in a junior position in officialdom, though enjoys his pastimes, longs to better serve the Empire.  Now that he is being posted to the southeast of the Empire, he ascends the Leyou Heights to pledge his loyalty to the Empire symbolized by the tomb of the great Emperor Taizong.

I do hope you find my interpretation preferable and my rendition more beautiful.  Here we go:

Du Mu (803-852): Shall Proceed to Wuxing, I Ascend the Leyou Heights: A Quatrain


1                No duties on hand, I embrace my pastimes, O do I lack ability?

2                Lone clouds I love, idling at ease, bonzes I befriend for tranquility.

3                Now I am about to fly my banners, where the sea and rivers meet,

4                On the Leyou Heights, northwest I look, to Mound Illuminantility.                                


Translated by Andrew W.F. Wong (Huang Hongfa)     譯者: 黃宏發

15 November 2021 (revised 18.11.2021; 23.11.2021; 25.11.2021)                               

Translated from the original - 杜牧: 將赴吳興登樂遊原一絕


1                清時有味是無能

2                閒愛孤雲靜愛僧

3                欲把一麾江海去

4                樂遊原上望昭陵




*Form, Metre, and Rhyme:  The original is a 7-character quatrain 七言絕句 with a caesura after the fourth character.  This English rendition is a heptameter (7 beats or feet) with a caesura after the fourth beat.  The rhyme scheme of the original is AAxA which is adhered to in this English rendition with the perfect feminine rhyme of “-ility”.


*Line 1:  I have interpreted 清時 (clear; time) not as “in times of peace” (late Tang dynasty was not that peaceful) but as “in a post in the capital with nothing or not much to do”, the poet was in a junior post in the Ministry of Personnel.  I have, thus, rendered it as “No duties on hand” after considering “no tasks on hand”.  有味 (possess; tastes or interests) is rendered as “I embrace my pastimes”, after considering “I pursue my interests”.  The apparent statement 是無能 (is or am; no; ability) is interpreted to be a rhetorical question and is, thus, rendered as “O do I lack ability?” to effectively say “not because I lack ability”.


*Line 2:  The first word (idle or free) is translated as “idling at ease”.  The fifth word  (still or silent) is interpreted to mean “still” only, not “silent” and is, thus, rendered as “for tranquility”.  For the word (love) which appears twice in the line, the first is translated literally as “I love”, and the second is rendered as “I befriend” for variety.  孤雲 (solitary or single; cloud) is interpreted to refer to scattered clouds (not numerically one single piece of cloud) and is, therefore, rendered in the plural as “Lone clouds”.   (Buddhist monk) is translated literally as “bonzes” which word, etymologically, came from French “bonze” and Portuguese “bonzo” originally came from Japanese 梵僧 (pronounced) “bonso” which came from Chinese 梵僧 (pronounced) “fanseng”.


*Line 3:  The first word is interpreted not to mean “wish or desire” but to mean “it is imminent” or 即將 (immediate; shall) which echoes the 將赴 “Shall Proceed” in the title.  It is, therefore, translated as “Now I am about to”.  把一麾 (hold; one; banner) is taken to mean “given the warrant to govern (a territory)” and is rendered as “fly my banners”.  江海   (river; sea) refers to the place the poet is posted to, i.e., “Wuxing” 吳興 mentioned in the title, which is present day Huzhou 湖州 in Chejiang 浙江 province on China’s Southeastern  seaboard and which is where rivers and the sea meet.  (go to) is translated literally as “to” which is taken as covered by the “to” in “Now I am about to”, and 江海去 is, thus, rendered simply as “where the sea and rivers meet”.


*Line 4:  樂遊 (pleasant; travel or visit) is transliterated as “Leyou” while (plain or plateau) is rendered as “Heights” as 樂遊原 is a piece of elevated land, after considering “plateau” and “highland”.  is translated literally as “On”.  昭陵 (pronounced Zhaoling) is the name of the royal tomb of the second emperor Taizong 太宗 of the Tang dynasty reputedly the greatest of all Tang emperors.  The tomb is located at Jiuzong Shan 九嵕山 some 70 kilometres (source: https://baike.baidu.hk/item/昭陵/3849) to the northwest of the capital Chang’an 長安 (present day Si’an 西安).  The question arises as to whether the tomb can be seen from the Leyou Heights (on the southeast of Chang’an) which must be more than 70 kilometres away but, given the vast size of the grounds of the tomb (about 200 kilometres square, same source) and the peak behind it (elevation 1,188 metres, same source), I suppose it is possible to establish the general direction of where the tomb is.  I have, therefore, rendered the word (look or gaze) (which follows 樂遊原上) as “northwest I look, to …”, spelling out the direction to the tomb which is not on the Leyou Heights.  昭陵 (clear or bright; hill or tomb) is rendered not in transliteration but as “Mound Illuminantility” with (hill or tomb) rendered as “Mound” (= burial ground) and (clear or bright) rendered as “Illuminantility”.  Please note, the word “Illuminantility” cannot be found in dictionaries.  It is a word coined by me by combining “illuminant” (lighting up, or something which illuminates, source: Shorter Oxford) and “-ility” (“-ty” as suffix = expressing the state or condition something is in, same source) to mean “in a state of illuminating”.  I suggest reading “Illuminantility” with these 2 syllables “-lu-“ and “-ti-“ stressed  This coined word is needed to complete the “-ility” rhyme.


18 May 2022

葉清臣 Ye Qingchen - 寄調: 賀聖朝 Tune: He Shen Cao 題: 留別 Title: Farewell but Please Remain

Today, I am posting my rendition of a "tune lyric" or "ci" 詞 by the Song dynasty poet Ye Qingchen 葉清臣.  The "tune lyric" is a genre of Chinese poetry in lines of varying lengths and can be known as long-and-short-lined poems.  To know a bit more about "tune lyric", please proceed to my first note below.

Robert Nicol's Rendition

My rendition is done in response to Mr. Robert Nicol of Melbourne, Australia who, in April, sent me by email 2 versions of his rendition of the same poem.  With his kind permission, I now reproduce below his version 2:

"Congratulations to the Holy Dynasty and Farewell" - Ye Qingchen   (English translation by Robert Nicol, Version 2 , 22 Apr 2022)

1  Dinner's fine wine was meant to ensnare you.

2  Don't hasten home.

3  I'm three parts spring, two parts sadness, one part wind and rain.

4  How many flowers have bloomed and withered?

5  But let's relax and sing, not talk of sad things.

6  I know not where we can meet, come next year's peonies.

The original poem in Chinese is shown below after my rendition of the same.  You will note that Mr. Robert Nicol's rendition is in 6 lines of varying lengths and is in unrhymed free verse.  This is probably because he does not know the original is (a) written in 9 lines, and (b) features a rhyme scheme, which is hard to detect (even for native speaking Chinese) as sounds have changed through time.  But it may also be due to his intent to be as concise as possible (as poetry is no prose) and to write in unrhymed free verse.  In any case, Mr. Nicol has been able to fully cover the substance of the original.  Below is my rendition.

Andrew Wong's Rendition


Ye Qingchen (1000-1049)

Tune: He Shen Cao (Homage to the Imperial Court)

Title: Farewell but Please Remain


1             With my finest wine to fill your cup, I urge you to please remain,

2             Not to unduly hasten to leave, I pray.

3             Of the sweet springtime made of three, two are tinged with sadness,

4             And one, what’s more, all bleak with wind and rain.


5             Flowers blossom, yet flowers demise ---

6             How few, in all, are the flowering days?

7             So, aloud, let us sing! Of sad things, air no plaints!

8             Be merry, because we know not, we, next year when peonies smile,

9             O where, if ever, shall meet each other again.


Translated by Andrew W.F. Wong (Huang Hongfa)      譯者: 黃宏發

23 March 2022 (revised 30.3.2022; 13.4.2022; 21.4.2022; 4.5.2022; 16.5.2022; 17.5.2022)

Translated from the original - 葉清臣 - 寄調: 賀聖朝  : 留別


1             滿斟留君住

2             莫匆匆歸去

3             三分春色二分愁

4             更一分風雨


5             花開花謝

6      都來幾許

7      且高歌休訴

8          不知來嵗牡丹時

9      再相逢何處



*Form, Metre, and Rhyme:  The original is a poem in the genre of “ci” which are the lyrics written to specific tunes which, their music being lost, should be understood as “lyric patterns”.  So, “To the tune of …” means “To the lyric pattern of …”, and “ci” can, therefore, be translated into English as “tune lyrics”.  As “tune lyrics” feature a mingling of long and short verse lines, they can, therefore, be also referred to as “long-short-lined verses”.  The original is a tune lyric to the tune of “He Shen Cao” which is a lyric pattern of 49 characters in two stanzas (24 and 25 respectively).  The long-short-lined length pattern of the original is: 7 5/7 5// 4 4/5 7 5 (numerals stand for number of words, double slash for stanza break).  This English rendition follows strictly the same length pattern but with a count of feet or beats or stresses (not syllables).  I have, in addition, provided a medial caesura or pause for all lines: after the fourth for 7-beat lines, and after the second for 5- and 4-beat lines.  The rhyme scheme of the original is: AA/xA // xA/AxA, with both stanzas having the same rhyme.  Although the characters in the original do not sound like rhymes by current day pronunciation (in either Chinese Putonghua or Chinese Cantonese), I think it worthwhile to emulate the original rhyme scheme.  Failing to find perfect rhymes, I have, nonetheless, succeeded in using the assonance of the ‘ei’ sound in “remain” (line 1), “pray” (line 2), “rain” (line 4), “days” (line 6), “plaints” (line 7), and “again” (line 9) to satisfy the rhyme scheme.


*Line 1:  滿斟 (full: pour) is rendered as “to fill your cup”, and (green or black; wine), rendered as “With my finest wine”.  Here, I have taken not to mean “green” but to mean a colour close to “black”.  I have also taken to allude to a fine wine called 綠蟻 (green or black; ants), hence, a fine wine, and is rendered  as “with my finest wine”.  留君住 (keep; you; stay) is rendered as “I urge you to please remain”.


*Line 2:  歸去 (do not; hurry; hurry; return or go back; leave or away) is rendered as “Not to unduly hasten to leave, I pray” , with “Not to” to translate , “unduly hasten” to render 匆匆, and “to leave” to render , and with “I pray” added.  Please note I have not been able to reproduce the reduplication of 匆匆 in my translation as I find genuine reduplications such as “Not to unduly hurry, hurry away” and “Not to unduly hasten away in haste” less than satisfactory.  On 歸去, as the poem is about the friend leaving without indicating whether he is going back to his home or to his post (job), I have rendered 歸去 simply as “(unduly hasten) to leave”, instead of “(unduly hurry) home (in haste)”, keeping the destination unspecified.  “I pray” is added to produce the assonance rhyme.


*Lines 3 and 4:  I have rendered 三分春色 (three; parts; spring; colour) in line 3 as “Of the sweet springtime made of three”, with “the sweet springtime” to translate 春色, and “made of three”, to translate 三分 to mean the three months of spring with “parts” or “months” taken as understood.   二分愁 (two; parts; sadness) which follows in line 3, is rendered as “two are tinged with sadness” which says two-thirds of the 3-month springtime are tinged with sadness.  一分風雨 (more; one; part; wind; rain) in line 4 is rendered as “And one, what’s more, all bleak with wind and rain”, with “what’s more” to translate , and with “all bleak” added to depict the saddening effects of “wind and rain”.


*Lines 5 and 6:  Line 5 花開花謝 is translated literally as “Flowers blossom, yet flowers demise”, with “yet” added.  Line 6 都來 (tallying all: the result of tallying [as in 醒來 wake up]) is simply rendered as “in all”.  幾許 (how many) which follows, is a rhetorical question with “how many” to mean “how few” and is rendered as such.  Line 6 of the original poem is silent on the “of what” (甚麼) of either “in all” (都來) or “how few” (幾許).  As line 6 is the second line of a couplet the opening line of which (line 5) is on flowers, I have taken the “of what” to be “days of flowers in bloom” and have, hence, rendered line 6 都來幾許 as “How few, in all, are the flowering days”.


*Line 7:  且高歌 (in the circumstances; loud; sing) is rendered as “So, aloud, let us sing”, with “So … let us” to translate 休訴 (not, or stop; complain, or talk) is rendered as “Of sad things, (let’s [omitted]) air no plaints”, with “Of sad things” added to make sense of the line and to make it a 5-beat line.


*Line 8:  不知 (not; know) is rendered in the first half line as “Be merry, because we know not, we, …”, with (a) “we know not” to literally translate 不知, and with (b) “Be merry, because” added to link line 8 up to line 7 and down to line 9.  I have also inserted in the line a second “we” in “because we know not, we”.  Technically, it is moved up from line 9: “O where if ever, (we) shall meet each other again”.  I suggest reading this second “we” in line 8, stressed.  來嵗牡丹時 (coming; year; peonies; time) is rendered as “next year when peonies smile”, with “smile” chosen after considering “bloom”.


*Line 9:  再相逢何處 (again; mutual; meet; where) is rendered as “O where, if ever, (we) shall meet each other again”, with “we” moved to line 8, and with “if ever” added.  The addition of “if ever” is crucial for a proper understanding of the state of mind of the poet.  If he were simply wondering “where” they would meet, he would have written 不知 何處再相逢 (= don’t know … where we’ll meet again).  But he had written 不知 再相逢何處 (= don’t know … we’ll meet again, where), with 何處 (where) placed at the end, somewhat like an afterthought to the implied question of 不知 是否 (yes or no) 再相逢 (= don’t know … if we’ll ever meet again), and this state of mind is best covered by the “O where, if ever, shall meet” formulation.  For better effects, I suggest reading “if” stressed and “ever” unstressed.


29 April 2022

劉方平 Liu Fangping: 月夜 A Night in Moonlight

Today, I am posting a beautiful quatrain on the subject of a night in spring written by 劉方平 Liu Fangping, which I translated last (2021) September to October.  I hope you will find my rendition faithful to the original in terms of both sense and sound.  My notes on lines 1 and 2 are particularly informative.  Let's first have a go on the poem in English:- 

Liu Fangping (circa 758): A Night in Moonlight


1                Deep in the night, the whitening moonlight, on our houses’ moonlit side;

2                The Dipper-stars North, a sky-high railing: the Dipper-stars South, subside.

3                O tonight, ‘tis a night, I am pleased to find, so warm, the breath of spring,     

4                As crickets rise a-chirping anew, through my window’s green gauze divide.


Translated by Andrew W.F. Wong (Huang Hongfa)    譯者: 黃宏發

7 September 2021 (revised 10.9.2021; 14.9.21; 20.9.2021; 24.9.2021; 30.9.2021; 5.10.2021; 8.10.2021; 14.10.2021)

Translated from the original - 劉方平: 月夜


1                更深月色半人家

2                北斗闌干南斗斜

3                今夜偏知春氣暖

4                蟲聲新透綠窗紗




*Form, Metre, and Rhyme:  The original is a 7-character quatrain 七言絕句 with a caesura after the fourth character.  This English rendition is in heptameter (7 beats or feet) also with a caesura after the fourth beat.  The original’s rhyme scheme is AAxA which is followed in this English rendition.


*Line 1:  does not mean “more”, and 更深 does not mean “more deep = deeper”.  is a two-hour night watch period based on the Chinese system of dividing the whole day into 12 two-hour periods (which, incidentally, are also called = hours).  Thus, we have for the “night watches”: 一更 (First Watch) to cover 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., 二更 (Second Watch), 9 p.m. to 11 p.m., 三更 (Third Watch), 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. (with midnight in the middle), 四更 (Fourth Watch), 1 a.m. to 3 a.m., and 五更 (Fifth Watch), 3 a.m. to 5 a.m.  There is no 六更 (Sixth Watch) as past 5 a.m., it is already dawn and morning.  Thus, 更深 means “deep into the night watches or hours” and is translated literally as “Deep in the night”.  To make sure it is much further on in the night than just the Third Watch, I had considered rendering it as “Well/ Long past midnight” but have rejected it for being less than faithful to the original.  月色 (moon; colour) is rendered as “the whitening moonlight” to give moonlight a colour to cover the word , which word can just mean “beautiful view/ scenery/ scene” as in 湖光山色 (= beautiful view of the lake and hills).  人家 (men; homes) is rendered literally as “our houses”.  半人家 is taken to depict a moon, before or after passing the meridian, shining on one side of the houses facing the moon and is, thus, rendered as “on our houses’ moonlit side” with the word “side” to translate (half). 


*Line 2:  北斗 (north; dipper or scoop) refers to an asterism 星群 of 7 stars (not planets) in the constellation 星座 of Ursa Major 大熊座in the northern sky.  It features a crooked line of 7 stars in the shape of a dipper (or scoop or ladle or plough or wain) and is, therefore, known as the Big Dipper or just Dipper.  Here, I have rendered it as “the Dipper-stars North”, with “-stars” added to make plain that this is a line about stars (while line 1 is about the moon), and with “North” and “Dipper-stars” inverted for a better rhythm.  I have done the same to 南斗 (south; dipper) in the same line which is rendered as “the Dipper-stars South”.  In ancient Chinese astronomy, 南斗 refers to an asterism of 6 stars in the southern sky which also features the shape of a dipper.  These south stars are in the constellation of Sagittarius 人馬座 but is not referred to as an asterism in Western astronomy.  (It may be of interest to note there exists another asterism of 7 stars in the northern sky in the constellation of Ursa Minor 小熊座 which is also shaped like a dipper and known as the Little Dipper, which is not of our concern.)  闌干 is translated literally as “railing” (= a crooked “line” of 7 stars).  I have not adopted the “horizontal” interpretation as these north stars are circumpolar stars circling the North Star (Polaris) and would appear as either largely horizontal or largely vertical (in fact, always slanting) depending on the time of the day and the season of the year.  They are never seen as rising and setting.  To the word “railing”, I have added “sky-high” to suggest the omni-presence of the Dipper-stars North in contrast to the Dipper-stars South which are not omni-present, rising from south-south-east and setting at south-south-west in the southern sky owing to earth’s self-rotation.  I have used “subside” to translate (slanting), as these south stars and other stars of the Sagittarius constellation, which are located near the southern horizon and moving west, would appear to the viewer in the mid-latitudes of the northern hemisphere (which is where China was and is) to be subsiding westwards.


*Line 3:  今夜 (tonight) is rendered as “O tonight, ‘tis a night” to create 2 beats for the 7-beat line.  (inclined or prejudiced; know or aware) can reasonably be interpreted to mean either (i) 偏巧知道 “I happen to know”, or (ii) ()知道 “only now I know”, or (iii) 傾向於 知道 “prone to knowing”, but all of these interpretations miss the subtleties of the partiality of the word particularly in 偏心/// which are all expressions of favouritism.  I suspect and I speculate that, in this context, the poet has chosen the word to say he “takes special pleasure (in that spring has come)”.  I have, therefore, rendered 偏知 as “I am pleased to find”.  春氣暖 (spring; air; warm) is rendered as “so warm, the breath of spring”, with 氣   rendered as “breath” rather than “air” or “wind”. 


*Line 4:  蟲聲 is rendered as “As crickets rise a-chirping”, with the much more appealing word “crickets” to translate (insects), and with the onomatopoeic word “a-chirping” to render (sound).  The words 新透 (new; through) are covered by “anew” followed by “through”.  綠窗紗 (green; window; gauze) is rendered as “my window’s green gauze divide” with the word “divide” (understood as the “screen” made of green gauze mounted on the window) deployed to complete the “-ide” rhyme for lines 1, 2, and 4.



Classical Chinese Poems in English


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