Wang Wei — Wei City Song

Wei City Song

Wang Wei

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

Wei City — a morning rain wets the light dust.
At the inn the willows are a new color, more green.

I invite you, stay to drink another cup of wine —
after you leave Yang Gate for the west, there’s no one you know.

Johnson, Stephen. Fifty Tang Poems. I found the Chinese text and an English translation of this poem, with commentary — along with the word-by-word literal translation I used to create this one — on pp. 23-4 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.


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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