Saturday, April 14, 2012

Song Zhiwen’s “Dayu Mountain Ridge” (300 Tang Poems #96 )




Song Zhiwen wrote this poem on his travel to exile in the far south of China.

Translation

Song Zhiwen (656?-712)
宋之問
A Northern Post on the Dayu Mountain Ridge

題大庾嶺北驛


October—
wild geese fly south

陽月
南飛雁
I’ve heard
they reach here, then return

傳聞
至此回
My travels
are different, and not yet done

我行
殊未已
When is the day
I shall return?

何日
復歸來
The river is still
and the tide begins to ebb

江靜
潮初落
Woods are faint
and pestilent vapors haven’t begun

林昏
瘴不開
Tomorrow...
I shall gaze on my native town

明朝
望鄉處
But now I must look at
the ridge’s blossoming plums

應見
隴頭梅

Notes:

1.  Like Shen Quanqi, this poet, Song Zhiwen, helped lay down the initial format of Tang regular-verse, especially in tone-matching and antithesis. It helped the poetry of the times to transition from ancient-style to Tang regular-style. The contribution of him and Shen Quanqi is the most recognized in this field.
2.  Just like Shen Quanqi in the same period, his personality was that of a bootlicker and therefore classical literary scholars disdained him, but his historical position concerning metrical verses was commonly recognized. 
3.   Empress Wu and Emperor Zhong favored Song. However, he was exiled during the reign of Emperor Rui. This huge difference of life is the cause of the lament in this poem.


Original Chinese

Traditional
Simplified
Pronunciation



宋之問
宋之问
Sòng Zhī Wèn
題大庾嶺北驛
题大庾岭北驿
Tí dà yǔ lǐng běi yì



陽月南飛雁,
阳月南飞雁,
Yáng yuè nán fēi yàn,
傳聞至此回,
传闻至此回,
Chuán wén zhì cǐ huí,
我行殊未已,
我行殊未已,
Wǒ xíng shū wèi yǐ,
何日復歸來?
何日复归来?
Hé rì fù guī lái?
江靜潮初落,
江静潮初落,
Jiāng jìng cháo chū luò,
林昏瘴不開。
林昏瘴不开。
Lín hūn zhàng bù kāi.
明朝望鄉處,
明朝望乡处,
Míng zhāo wàng xiāng chù,
應見隴頭梅。
应见陇头梅。
Yīng jiàn lǒng tóu méi.


Literal Notes

宋之問
Song It Ask=Song Zhiwen(656?-712)
題大庾嶺北驛
Inscribe/title/theme/topic/to-mention/subject Da/big/vast Yu/storehouse/granary Mountain/mountain-ridge/mountain-peak north relay-station
[Da Yu Mountain=a mountain in Jiangxi, which is full of plum blossoms, thus it is also called Plum Ridge. It is also mentioned in the end. The ancients believed this was the border between the South and North China.]


陽月南飛雁,
Sun/light month/moon south(ward) flying/dart wild-goose
[Sun month=the 10th month in Chinese lunar calendar, in the wintertime]
傳聞至此回,
Rumor/summon/transmit hear/news/make-known till/arrive/reach here return/turn-around
[Meaning: Though the migrating birds fly southward during the winter, this is the furthest they go.]
[Rumor hear = rumor]
我行殊未已,
My trip/travel actually/different not-yet end/finish/stop
[My trip/travel= the poet was exiled to Guangxi, so he had to continue to go south after arriving Jiangxi.]
何日復歸來?
What/which/why day/sun once-again/repeatedly return come/returning
[What day = when?], [once-again return = return/come-back]
江靜潮初落,
River quiet/peaceful/calm/still/motionless/gentle tide just/beginning fall/drop/go-out
林昏瘴不開。
Forest/woods dim/twilight/faint/dusk malaria/miasma/pestilent-vapors not open/begin/start
明朝望鄉處,
Tomorrow/bright/clear morning/in-the-future to-gaze(into the distance)/look-towards/look-forward/hope hometown/native-place/village place/area
應見隴頭梅。
Should/ought/must/comply-with see/behold hill/mountain beginning/head/top plum-blossom


Notes and character table prepared with the assistance of Liane Rui of Shanghai, China.

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