Chinese Puzzle Box

Explorations in and about China

Translation: Meng Hao Ran/ Bessie Smith

Friends parting

This is an exercise in translation in many forms.First I give my own translation into Western-style traditional iambic pentameter. I have the original poem by Meng Hao Ran, translated into modern simplified Chinese. I have the translation of sounds into pinyin. I have the word-by-word translation.  And finally I give you an old Bessie Smith blues which seems to echo the same sentiments as those of Meng Hao Ran so many centuries earlier.

Parting From Wang Wei – Meng Haoran (孟浩然)

Each morning free and set for my return

Silent and alone, my lingering must end.

For fragrant grass on distant hills I yearn,

Yet cannot bear the parting from my friend.

On my long road, who will my hardship share?

In a long lifetime, bosom friends are rare.

Yet with my loneliness I must abide –

Shut my old garden, me alone inside.


留别王维 Liu2 Bie2 WAng2 Wei2

寂寂竟何待 Ji4 ji4 jing4 he2 dai4
朝朝空自归 Zhao1zhao1 kong1 zi4 gui1
欲寻芳草去 Yu4xun2 fang1cao3 qu4
惜与故人违 Xi1yu3gu4ren2 wei2
当路谁相假 Dang1 lu4 shui2 xiang1 jia3
知音世所稀 Zhi1 yin1 shi4 suo3 xi1
只应守寂寞 Zhi3 ying1 shou3 ji4 mo4
还掩故园扉 Huan2 yan3 gu4 yuan2 fei1

Quiet/ lonesome finish/ complete what/which await/need/wait for
Every morning empty/free time self go back/return
Desire/longing look for/ seek/ search fragrant/virtuous grass/female go/remove
Cherish give/ together with old friend be separated
Equal/ must/ serve as/accept/ manage road/journey who one another/mutually
avail oneself of/ borrow
Bosom friend/ friend who appreciates ones talents world/ lifetime place
Only respond/agree guard/observe/close to lonely/lonesome
Give back/return hide/cover for this reason/old friend/ former park/garden
door leaf

今天的朝, 我 开汽车, 听了收音机的广播, 传统的歌唱家,让我想 Bessie Smith,
唱了”绿的唱”. 词句是:

“Sometimes I feel so weary, traveling through life all alone;
“Sometimes I feel so weary, traveling through life all alone;
It’s a long long journey – and I can’t make it on my own

There are seven million people, just in this one town
There are seven million people, just in this one town,
Seven million strangers, friends I just have one.

我想: 啊, 孟浩然 跟Bessie Smith 一样意思.


Single Post Navigation

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: