03 August 2020

王維 Wang Wei: 渭城曲/ 送元二使安西 Song of Weicheng/ Farewell to Yuan Er on His Mission to Anxi

Here is another Wang Wei quatrain which I had translated a long time ago (2009) and which has not been posted here.  It was posted on the "forum" website of the "Hong Kong Economic Journal" 信報論壇 on 15 April 2011.  I hope you will enjoy it.  Here we go:

Wang Wei (701-761):  Song of Weicheng/ Farewell to Yuan Er on His Mission to Anxi 

1      Morning mizzles in Weicheng, its dusty air cleansed clean;

2      Green, O green is the tavern, in the willows’ new-born sheen.

3      To wine, my friend, I urge you: one further cup to drain,

4      For west beyond the Yang Pass, no friends of yore be seen.


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

27th February 2009 (revised 3.3.09; 4.3.09; 5.3.09; 10.3.09)

Translated from the original - 王維: 渭城曲送元二使安西


1      渭城朝雨浥輕塵

2      客舍青青柳色新

3      勸君更盡一杯酒

4      西出陽關無故人



 *  This English rendition is in hexameter (6 metrical feet) whilst the original poem is in 7-character lines.  The rhyme scheme is AAXA as in the original (perfect, if read in Cantonese).

 *  Line 1:  I had considered “Morning showers/ drizzles/ rain” but have now chosen “Morning mizzles” for the ‘m’ alliteration.  I have interpreted 輕塵 (light dusts) as dusts in the air (rather than on the ground) and have rendered it as “dusty air” after considering “dustiness”.  I hope this creates an image of “dusts in the air cleansed, hence, air fresh and clean” which cannot be achieved by such faithful words as “light dusts”.  The choice of the word “cleansed” is for its ‘k=c’ alliteration with “clean”. Other words considered include “wetted”, “washed”, “rinsed”, and “moistened”.

 *  Line 2:  For the rhyme, “sheen” might be the best word, lest we may have to live with the word “green” to translate 柳色 (willow colour) to end the line.

 *  Line 3:  I had originally used “Of wine” but have now decided for “To wine”.  For the word I have decided for “drain” after considering “drink”, “imbibe” and “empty”, and have interpreted 更盡一杯 not to literally mean “you again drain one cup” or “you drain one more cup”, but to mean “you and I, a further cup let us drain” which is more appropriate for the moment of separation.  I had considered “round” instead of “cup” but have decided against “round” for being too colloquial.

 *  Line 4:  I had originally used “westward” but have now decided for “west” for its simplicity.  


Classical Chinese Poems in English


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