Returning to Live in the South 3
(translated by William P. Coleman)
I sow my beans below the southern hills,
but grass flourishes, while bean seedlings are scarce.
Mornings I rise to clear tangled waste space,
then, under the moon, carry my hoe coming home.
The path is narrow, through tall grass under trees;
its evening dew dampens my clothes.
But wet clothes don’t worry me —
not enough to separate me from my dream.
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.