(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.