Spending the night at the farm of an old friend
(translated by William P. Coleman)
An old friend prepared chicken with millet
and has invited me to his farm house.
It’s under green trees at the edge of the village,
where blue-green hills slant up beyond the walls.
On his porch, open to a garden courtyard,
we hold wine cups and talk of mulberry trees and hemp.
We stay up until it’s bright daylight again,
then I go home, strolling past chrysanthemum blossoms.
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.
Also at the website Tang Shi — 300 Tang Poems, from Wengu — Chinese Classics and 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.
More Chinese poetry translations in this blog.
Home page for my Meng Haoran translations.