Read Poetry Through Translation
I put this together mainly for my own enjoyment. Of course, it is also my goal to make a small difference in our attempt to study or appreciate classical Chinese poetry and prose. I assume that my readers are primarily those who learn Chinese as a second language, or those whose mother tongue is not Chinese.
Let me be frank, I am neither a scholar of Chinese poetry nor a translator by profession. When it comes to shi and ci poetry, I am but a self-taught learner and late starter. I did not start writing my first “real” poem until four years into retirement. However, I do have a passion for making the study of classical Chinese poetry (and the Chinese language too) easier and less complicated for bilingual students.
I enjoy the bilingual approach to interpreting and translating classical Chinese poetry. The bilingual approach is actually the tool I used to learn the craft of writing shi and ci poems.
I am the first to admit that my translations are far from being perfect. They are certainly not free from misinterpretations, omissions, errors, and personal biases. I encourage you to review them critically. Further, my translations are intended as "reading aids" only. In other words, each of my translations serves only one purpose: To facilitate reading and understanding the original poem, lyric, or essay.
--- E. C. Chang
Greeting the Year of Monkey
In the midst of a blizzard, we bid farewell to the old lunar year.
No old sheep is in sight; so wild the little monkeys appear.
Confined indoor for three days, we have little room to move around.
With two feet of snow in the city, where can we be bound?
So fortunate to have a neighbor who will come to clear our driveway.
I wish I could raise my shoulder and arm to shovel the snow away!
So sad to watch the deer lingering around our "dwarfed" cypress.
I do sympathize with them as they must cope with their hunger stress.
Let the Cypress Tree Speak for Itself
Unlike the desolate woods, I do not wither.
In bitterly cold, I still look enchantingly tender.
Wind and frost fail to bring me down.
Assaulted by snow and ice, I am still around.
Nothing the old fellow can do with two feet of snow.
He watches helplessly as the deer eat me three days in a row.
He did use a net to protect my lower body from the deer.
Now dwarfed, I beg for mercy and ask them to stop coming here.
What is Love?
Love is the clouds on the mountain peak;
the shining light of waves on the sea;
the youth with two wings;
an ego that keeps rising.
Love is an enchanting melody;
the skylight of the soul;
the echoes in loneliness;
a storm haven and shelter.
Love is the soul mate of the heart;
the fragrance of spring flowers;
the hope of mortals;
the paradise for our dreams.
A life without love would be like
a rose bush that will never bloom;
a stream in which no fish will swim;
a moon with no surrounding stars;
a rising sun with no clouds
upon which to glow brighter.
Mourning My Friend Tao K. Ming (1)
Your mind was wide enough for the WAY to go through.
A man of integrity, you often put on a smiling face too.
Suddenly I heard that you are gone forever today,
Feeling like the autumn wind has swept my spring buds away.
Mourning My Friend Tao K. Ming (2)
When maple leaves have turned red, autumn is already here.
Any more changes in color will hasten them to fall and disappear.
Birds and fowls in succession are doomed to leave disorderly.
The thin woods will soon look even more desolate and lonely.
So surprised to hear that you have left your friends forever.
No one has ever returned from this one-way journey ever.
The thought of your humorous but poetical expression
has somewhat helped to lighten my sorrowful emotion.
So open and spacious were your heart and mind!
To your friends you often were so sincere and kind!
Understanding so well the Truth and the Way of life,
You were the kind of man as your name has implied.