A memento to keep our friendship as I part from Wang Wei
(translated by William P. Coleman)
Lonely, lonely, I’ve stayed. Why wait —
day after day, returning emptied out.
I long to search, to go where grass is fragrant.
I care tenderly: we’re separating, old friend.
As I walk down the road, who can I share with?
You know that, in a lifetime, friends are scarce.
Respectfully, I should maintain my quiet solitude:
go home again and close my garden gate.
See my Wang Wei translations.
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.
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 the website Tang Shi — 300 Tang Poems, from Wengu — Chinese Classics and Poems.
I also consulted the English translation in Barnstone, Tony and Chou Ping. The Anchor Book of Chinese Poetry. Garden City: Anchor, 2005. ISBN 0-385-72198-6.
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.
Home page for my Meng Haoran translations.