Meng Haoran — Mooring for the night on the Jiande River

Mooring for the night on the Jiande River

Meng Haoran

691-740 CE
(translated by William P. Coleman)

I move the boat to moor in mist at an island.
As the sun sets, my unhappiness returns.

Across open wilderness, sky reaches down to trees;
and above the clear river the moon comes close to me.

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.

Tang Shi -- 300 Tang Poems, from Wengu -- Chinese Classics and 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 translations in

Barnstone, Tony and Chou Ping. The Anchor Book of Chinese Poetry Barnstone, Tony and Chou Ping. The Anchor Book of Chinese Poetry. Garden City: Anchor, 2005. ISBN 0-385-72198-6.

Seaton, JP. The Shambhala Anthology of Chinese Poetry. Seaton, JP. The Shambhala Anthology of Chinese Poetry. Boulder: Shambhala, 2006. ISBN 1-57062-862-9.

Weinberger, Eliot. The New Directions Anthology of Classical Chinese Poetry Weinberger, Eliot. The New Directions Anthology of Classical Chinese Poetry. New York: New Directions Publishing Corporation, 2004. ISBN 0-8112-1605-5.

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 Meng Haoran translations.

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One Response to Meng Haoran — Mooring for the night on the Jiande River

  1. Zhuang-qiu says:

    One of my favorite Tang poems ever, also one of the nicest poems about autumn I’ve ever known.

    The English translation is nice (although I do not like the word “unhappiness” very much. To me it sounds a bit too serious). In my country, we are lucky to have a beautiful translation of this poem in my mother tounge (Vietnamese) that (I feel) succeeded in conveying the soul of the poem. Sorry that it is possible to share with you guys cause Vietnamese is not available here.

    Thanks a lot for sharing.

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