03 October 2020

張泌 Zhang Bi: 寄人 To Someone

Here is yet another old rendition of mine not posted on this blog.  (It was first posted in the "Forum" website of the "Hong Kong Economic Journal" 信報網站 on 8 October 2010.) Here we go:

Zhang Bi (Tang Dynasty, years unknown): To Someone


1      Departed, I return in dream, to linger at your house once more ---

2      Turning, merging, zigzagging: that same balustrade corridor.

3      O none but the moon so loving, o’er the autumn courtyard shines,

4      Still shines for me, the absentee, on the flowers lie fallen a-floor.


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

19th April 2010 (revised 20.4.10; 21.4.10; 22.4.10; 16.9.10; polished 22.9.2020)

Translated from the original - 張泌: 寄人


1      別夢依依到謝家

2      小廊迴合曲闌斜

3      多情只有秋庭月

4      猶為離人照落花



*  Form, Metre and Rhyme:  This English rendition is in hexameter (6 metrical feet) while the original quatrain is in 7-character lines.  The rhyme scheme is AAxA as in the original.

*  Line 1:  I have taken 依依 to mean 依依不舍 which means reluctant, cannot bear to be separated and have used “return … to linger at (after considering “to cling to”) … once more” to convey this meaning.  謝家 (Xie house) refers to the abode of the addressee’s family and is rendered simply as “in your house”.  It may be of interest to note that (Xie) could have been used by the poet to allude to the high and mighty Xie family of the Eastern Jin (東晉) dynasty (317-420) to suggest it was the lady’s powerful and rich family (with Xie to stand for high social standing) and not the lady herself who rejected the poet’s marriage proposal.  In my view, this poem as a whole should be taken as a lament of love unrequited for whatever cause, and not of the evil of 門當户對 (well-matched in social status) marriages which is only obliquely alluded to in the one single word Xie.  I believe my decision to omit this possible allusion is entirely reasonable.

*  Line 2:  I have taken 小廊 (little corridor) and (railing) to mean a covered passageway with railings connecting the buildings and/or the gardens and grounds, hence, rendered as “that same balustrade corridor”.  I have taken the remaining 4 characters: (go round, turn) (join, merge) (crooked, angular) and (slant), to refer to a zigzag or crisscross pattern advancing diagonally and have decided for “Turning, merging, zigzagging” after considering “Parting, joining, zigzagging” and “Diverging, merging, crisscrossing”.

*  Line 3:  多情 is not taken to mean amorous, but caring, full of love, etc., hence, rendered as “in empathy”.

*  Line 4:  For 落花, I had considered “flowers strewn/ scattered” and have decided for “flowers lie fallen”.  I have coined the word “a-floor” to mean on the ground or floor, which is added for the ‘-or’ end rhyme. 


Classical Chinese Poems in English


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