Chinese Puzzle Box

Explorations in and about China

Crossing the Han River – Li Pin

The snow-clad mountain range blocked news from home
Through all the long hard winter; at last spring appears.
My yearning heart is full of anxious fears.
I dare not ask the messenger why he’s come.
Below is the original poem, with its pinyin and word-by-word translation.  Below that I have copied a translation by Witter Bynner of this classic Tang dynasty poem.  With all due respect, I think my own translation is closer to the original content.  What do you think?
渡汉江 – 李频
Du4 Han4 Jiang1
Crossing the Han River – Li Pin
Ling3 way4 yin1 shu1 duan4
The mountain range cuts off news and letters
endure winter, again comes spring
jin4 xiang1qing2geng4qie4
longing for home intensifies worry
bu4 gan3 wen4 lai2 ren2
Dare not ask the messenger for his news.
Li Pin’s poem “Crossing the Han River” is described by Kenneth Rexroth as “one of the most perfect poems of the later T’ang”.[2]
渡漢江 Crossing the Han River
嶺外音書絕, Away from home, I was longing for news
經冬復立春。 Winter after winter, spring after spring.
近鄉情更怯, Now, nearing my village, meeting people,
不敢問來人。 I dare not ask a single question.
Translation by Witter Bynner.

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