(translated by William P. Coleman)
I’ve made my home among people,
yet I hear no noise of cart horses.
You ask how am I able to do that?
A heart in a far place seeks its own.
I pick chrysanthemums from the east hedge
and gaze, at leisure, on South Mountain.
In this mountain air, day is beautiful — and night too;
birds fly out, then return together.
These facts all have a clear meaning;
I want to argue for my points, but already forget to speak.
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.
Similar resources are on pp. 157-159 of Greg Whincup’s book The Heart of Chinese Poetry, Anchor Books, 1987; ISBN 0-385-23967-X.
Also pp. 168-9 of Wai-Lim Yip’s book Chinese Poetry: an Anthology of Major Modes and Genres, Duke University Press, 1997; ISBN 0-8223-1946-2.
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.