The autumn leaves are falling like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are always two cups at my table.

T’ang Dynasty poem

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~


Friday, June 24, 2011

The 300 Tang Dynasy Poems: #40 Ballads of the Four Seasons - Summer

The Tang Dynasty was a high point in Chinese culture where art, especially poetry was especially esteemed. The finest works from this era were collected in the 300 Tang Dynasty Poems. A free online version of the anthology may be found here.


Here is an example. Poem #40, Ballads of the Four Seasons - Summer by Li Bai


BALLADS OF FOUR SEASONS: SUMMER

On Mirror Lake outspread for miles and miles,
The lotus lilies in full blossom teem.
In fifth moon Xi Shi gathers them with smiles,
Watchers o'erwhelm the bank of Yuoye Stream.
Her boat turns back without waiting moonrise
To yoyal house amid amorous sighs.

3 comments:

Chris said...

As much as I like the fact that you share these wonderful poems on your blog, I don't like these translations. Forcing them to rhyme in English just throws the whole thing off. Would it be illegal to post a short excerpt from a different translation? Or do you like these?

Chris said...

For example, check out this translation by William Carlos Williams:

The Mirror Lake
(Three hundred miles),

Where lotus buds
Burst into flowers.

The slippery shore
Is jammed with admirers,

While the village beauty
Picks the blossoms.

Before the sails
Breast the rising moon,

She's shipped away
To the king's harem.

I also really like David Hinton's translations.

Rick said...

Welcome! I use the translation that I do because its handy. Thanks for the pointers to the others. I'll check them out.