Wang Wei — Random Poem

Random Poem

Wang Wei

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

You yourself come from my hometown;
you should know all the hometown business.

On the day you came — in front of the silken window —
had the plum shown its blossoms, or not?

Chinese Poems 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.

Johnson, Stephen. Fifty Tang Poems. The poem is also given in a similar way, and with commentary, on pp.21-2 of Johnson, Stephen. Fifty Tang Poems. San Francisco: Pocketscholar Press, 2000. ISBN 0-9679453-0-5.

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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