Translation: Meng Hao Ran #4: To Buddhist Priest Yuan
My translation of this classic poem is at the top, followed by the simplified characters and pinyin transcription and the word-by-word translation at the end.
Shakespeare’s sonnet # 73 is similar in tone to this poem and uses the same metaphor of a dying fire. I include it at the bottom as a parallel reference. (No Chinese translation yet, but I may give it a try).
I often wish me in my grave for good;
In life a poor man walks a bitter road.
The Northern land was never my desire.
I miss my teacher in the eastern wood
The laurels burnt to flecks of ash and fire
My lofty goals were worn down by the years
The sun goes down, a chilly wind appears
Even the crickets song seems full of tears.
一丘常欲卧 Yi1 qiu1 chang2 yu4 wo4
三径苦无资 San1 jing2 ku3 wu2 zi1
北土非吾原 Bei3 tu3 fei1 wu2 yuan4
东林怀我师 Dong1 lin2 huai2 wo3 shi1
黄金燃桂尽 Huang2 jin3 ran2 gui4 jin4
壮志逐年衰 Zhuang4 zhi4zhu2 nian2 shuai1
日夕凉风至 ri4 xi1 liang2 feng1 zhi4
闻蝉但益悲 wen2 chan2 dan4 yi4 bei1
one hillock/grave often desire /wish lie
three path bitter not/there is no money/support
north land counter to/wrong I/myself original/raw/ level
East forest yearn for/cherish my teacher/master
Golden ignite/light laurel exhausted/spent
Lofty ideals one by one/ drive out year wane/ decline
Sun set cool wind to/until/most
Hear cicada/cricket nevertheless/merely increase sad / sorrowful / compassion
Sonnet 73, W. Shakespeare
That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few do hang
Upon those boughts which shake against the cold
Bare ruined choirs where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thour seest the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou seest the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the deathbed whereon it must expire,
Consumed with that which it was nourished by.
This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.