The Deer Enclosure
(translated by William P. Coleman)
Mountains empty, with no one visible
someone is heard — his words sound.
Light returns to enter far into the forest,
again shining, caught falling on green moss.
On the empty mountain, with no one in sight,
yet I hear — someone’s words sound.
Visibility returns, entering the deep forest,
meeting and illuminating — the green of the moss.
This translation is my entry in the sweepstakes implicitly created by the indispensable and welcome book 19 Ways of Looking at Wang Wei by Eliot Weinberger and Octavio Paz. the book compares various translations of this poem published throughout the 20th Century. Weinberger’s comments are sometimes corrosive, often inspiring. I’ve tried to avoid some of his criticisms and ignore others.
Without attempting one’s own translation, it would be difficult to absorb what Weinberger and Paz say.
Weinberger, Eliot and Octavio Paz. Nineteen Ways of Looking at Wang Wei. Mt. Kisco: Moyer Bell, 1987. ISBN 0-918825-14-8.
Translation resources are also on pp. 169-170 of Greg Whincup’s book The Heart of Chinese Poetry, Anchor Books, 1987; ISBN 0-385-23967-X.
There are online translation materials at Chinese Poems.
and also at Wengu — 300 Tang Poems.