Su Tung P’o — Impromptu Verse, again

Impromptu Verse, again

Su Tung-P’o

1037-1101 CE
(translated by William P. Coleman)

With white hair that the wind’s blown — frosted, loose —
in this small pavilion, I lie on a rattan mat seeming sick.

The doctor says spring sleep is beautiful;
The Taoist softly rings the bell for 5th watch.

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 Su Tung P’o translations.

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