Seeing off Meng Haoran at Yellow Crane Tower on his way to Guangling
(translated by William P. Coleman)
My friend said goodbye leaving the west from Yellow Crane Tower.
In the patterned mist of the third month, he goes down to Yangzhou.
His lone sail is an image far on the limit of jade green air.
I sense only the Long River’s flow, interfacing sky.
. 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 — and very helpful notes — on pp. 54-6 of Whincup, Greg. The Heart of Chinese Poetry. Garden City: Anchor Press, Doubleday, 1987. ISBN 0-385-23967-X.
Also at Chinese Poems.
There are also translation materials for this poem at the website Tang Shi — 300 Tang Poems, from Wengu — Chinese Classics and Poems.
And on p. 238 of Wai-Lim Yip’s book Chinese Poetry: an Anthology of Major Modes and Genres, Duke University Press, 1997; ISBN 0-8223-1946-2.
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 Li Bai translations.