Waiting all evening at the teacher’s mountain lodge for my friend Ding who hasn’t arrived
(translated by William P. Coleman)
At dusk, the sun sets over the mountain to the west;
it swiftly fills each valley and then there’s darkness.
The moon through the pines makes the night cold.
I listen as the wind blows across the clear spring.
The wood gatherers have returned, finished,
and in mist the birds have settled on their perches.
As for me, I hope my friend will come;
alone with my qín, I wait among the ivy on the path.
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.
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.