Friday, April 20, 2012

Wang Wan’s “Mooring Under Solid North Mountain” (300 Tang Poems #97)




Translation

Wang Wan (693-751)
王灣
Mooring Under Solid North Mountain

次北固山下


A traveler’s path
beside the mountain green

客路
青山外
Going by boat
on crystal water

行舟
綠水前
The current’s smooth
and two shores, wide

潮平
兩岸闊
The wind is right—
and hanging from my boat, a single sail

風正
一帆懸
Sun above the sea
that grows from remnant night

海日
生殘夜
River in spring
that joins the former year

江春
入舊年
Letters to my native town...
and who will deliver them?

鄉書
何處達
Wild geese return
to Luoyang...

歸雁
洛陽邊

Literal Notes:
1.  The poet, Wang Wan, won fame in poetry at an early age. He traveled frequently between the south and north China and did many writings. Unfortunately, only one volume of his works (ten poems in total) was preserved in the Complete Tang.
2.  The 5th and 6th verses (Hǎi ri shēng cán yè,  jiāng chūn rù jiù nián.) are the highlight. Commentators in Tang mentioned the lines were so unique, there is nothing else like it in Tang poetry.
3.  In the last verse, the poet is wondering if the wild geese returning from the south (where he is staying) in spring can carry his letters back to his hometown of Luoyang in the north.


Original Chinese

Traditional
Simplified
Pronunciation



王灣
王湾
Wáng Wān
次北固山下
次北固山下
Cì běi gù shān xià



客路青山外,
客路青山外,
Kè lù qīng shān wài,
行舟綠水前。
行舟绿水前。
Xíng zhōu lǜ shuǐ qián.
潮平兩岸闊,
潮平两岸阔,
Cháo píng liǎng àn kuò,
風正一帆懸。
风正一帆悬。
Fēng zhèng yī fān xuán.
海日生殘夜,
海日生残夜,
Hǎi ri shēng cán yè,
江春入舊年。
江春入旧年。
Jiāng chūn rù jiù nián.
鄉書何處達?
乡书何处达?
Xiāng shū hé chù dá?
歸雁洛陽邊。
归雁洛阳边。
Guī yàn luò yáng biān.


Literal Translation

王灣
King Bay=Wang Wan(693 - 751)
次北固山下
Berth/dock/moor/anchor/order/sequence/next North Strong/Solid Mountain below/under
[North Strong/Solid Mountain=a hill’s name, it’s in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu. It’s embraced by river on three sides.]


客路青山外,
Guest/traveler path/travel/walk-by/road/journey green hill/mountain outside/external/out
行舟綠水前。
Row/travel-by/go-by boat green/crystal-clear water front/before/in-front/precedign
潮平兩岸闊,
Tide/current/flow calm/peaceful/smooth/flat/level/even both/two/pair/couple banks/shores/coast/shore wide/widen/broad
風正一帆懸。
Wind/air straight/upright/proper one/alone sail to-hang/suspend/be-hung
海日生殘夜,
Sea/ocean sun create/grow/living/birth remaining/remnant/leftover/surplus/surviving night/dark/by-night
[Sea sun= the sun over sea]
江春入舊年。
River/large-river spring/youth/lust/life enter/come-into/join last/old/past/former year
[Meaning: In the year end (lunar calendar), I feel the sign of the early spring on the sea.]
鄉書何處達?
Country/native-place/hometown/village message/letter/document/writings which/how/what place to-arrive/deliver/reach/communicate
[Meaning: Which place can deliver my letter to the hometown?], [which place = where, whence]
歸雁洛陽邊。
Returning wild-goose Luo Yang side/along/nearby/edge/border
[Returning wild-goose= migrating birds are returning from south to north after the winter is over.
[Note:The poet was in the southern China at that moment, and his home was in the north.]

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

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