Wang Wei — The Pavilion at the Lake

The Pavilion at the Lake

Wang Wei

701-761 CE
(translated by William P. Coleman)

A small barge goes to meet my honored guest,
and, in no haste, we come back across the lake.

At the rail we face — with a cup of wine —
while, all around, lotus flowers bloom.

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 my Wang Wei translations.

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One Response to Wang Wei — The Pavilion at the Lake

  1. Baekho says:

    That’s pretty. Increasingly I find myself appreciating classical Chinese poetry.

    One of these days I gotta get around to actually learning the Hanzi.

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