Chinese Puzzle Box

Explorations in and about China

The Moon and You – Both So Far – Zhang Jiu Ling

The Moon and You – Both so Far
Rising from the sea the moon shines bright.
Though far apart, we celebrate this sight-
Lovers, complaining of the distant night,
Yearning for each other in the fading sunset light.
My snuffed candle mourns the dying sun.
My coat is wet with bursts of falling dew.
To send a gift of dewdrops can’t be done.
I’ll go to sleep and hope for dreams of you.
望月怀远– wàngyuè huái yuǎn
张九龄– Zhāng Jǔlíng
海上生明月– hǎishàng shēng míngyuè
Above the sea rises the bright moon
天涯共此时– tiānyá gòng cǐshí
The furthest corners of the earth share this moment
情人怨遥夜– qíngrén yuàn yáoyè
Lovers complain distant night
竟夕起相思– jìngxī qǐ xiāngsī
The fading sunset gives rise to yearning between lovers
灭烛怜光满– miechu lian guang man
Put out the candle in sympathy with  light expired
披衣觉露滋– piyi jue luzi
drape a coat over my shoulder feel dew burst
不堪盈手赠– bukan yingshou zen
cannot bear handfull  gift
还寝梦佳期– huanqin meng jiaqi
Return to bed dream wedding day/good time
Note:  This poem is packed with meanings which cannot all be captured in mere English.  For example, the last line could mean (probably DOES mean) both “Have sweet dreams” and “dream of our wedding day.”
Here is another translation which I like, and which is perhaps just as close to the core meaning, though it interprets the syntax quite differently:
Attaching: A Version By Hubei Education College:

Look At the Moon and Think Of One Far Away

The moon, grown full now over the sea,
Brightening the whole of heaven,
Brings to separated hearts
The long thoughtfulness of night….
It is no darker though I blow out my candle.
It is no warmer though I put on my coat.
So I leave my message with the moon
And turn to my bed, hoping for dreams.

Thanks to the website Shirley’s World ( for this alternate translation.
Which do you like best? Think is closest to Zhang’s thought?

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