Su Tung-P’o — Mid-autumn moon

Mid-autumn moon

Su Tung-P’o

1037-1101 CE
(translated by William P. Coleman)

At sunset, the clouds gather far; it’s perfectly clear and cold.
The Milky Way is silent, and I turn away to the jade plate.

The goodness of this life — this night — cannot last.
Next year, when the moon is bright, where will I be to see it?

I found the Chinese text and an English translation of this poem — along with the word-by-word literal translation I used to create this one — at Chinese Poems.

The grammar of Chinese allows poets to leave interpretive choices open, and it’s an unattainable ideal of translating to bring out possibilities without closing others. I try to use my sense of English to at least intrigue you. If I’ve succeeded, it’s best — even if you don’t know Chinese, which I don’t either — to follow up at the source I cite above and see the original word-by-word translation from which I worked. It’ll be richer than what I’ve given you. To understand the poem best, try to construct your own translation.

See the FAQ and the external links at Chinese Poems, a beautiful resource with many poems.

more Chinese poetry translations in this blog More Chinese poetry translations in this blog.
more Chinese poetry translations in this blog Home page for Su Tung P’o translations.

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