Monday, May 7, 2012

Du Fu’s “Thinking of Li Bai, at Heaven’s End” (300 Tang Poems #110)



Translation

Du Fu (712-770)

杜甫
Thinking of Li Bai, at Heaven’s End

天末懷李白


Cold wind
is blowing from heaven’s end,

涼風
起天末
Leaving me to wonder how
the noble Li Bai is feeling.

君子
意如何
How long will it take
for the wild geese to carry his news

鴻雁
幾時到
Across the rivers and lakes,
and great autumn waters?

江湖
秋水多
Literary works
abhor an easy fate

文章
憎命達
And mountain demons
love to fall upon people.

魑魅
喜人過
You should answer the spirit of the poet,
Qu Yuan, also wronged by an emperor,

應共
冤魂語
By throwing a poem
into the Mi Luo River, where he drowned.

投詩
贈汨羅

Notes:
1.    Readers can refer to #11 and #12 of the 300 Tang poems. These are all semi-memorial poems Du Fu wrote about Li Bai. Li was still alive then, but was exiled by the emperor.


Original Chinese

Traditional
Simplified
Pronunciation



杜甫
杜甫
Dù Fǔ
天末懷李白
天末怀李白
Tiān mò huái lǐ bái



涼風起天末,
凉风起天末,
Liáng fēng qǐ tiān mò,
君子意如何。
君子意如何。
Jūn zǐ yì rú hé.
鴻雁幾時到,
鸿雁几时到,
Hóng yàn jǐ shí dào,
江湖秋水多。
江湖秋水多。
Jiāng hú qiū shuǐ duō.
文章憎命達,
文章憎命达,
Wén zhāng zēng mìng dá,
魑魅喜人過。
魑魅喜人过。
Chī mèi xǐ rén guò.
應共冤魂語,
应共冤魂语,
Yīng gòng yuān hún yǔ,
投詩贈汨羅。
投诗赠汨罗。
Tóu shī zèng mì luō.


Literal Notes

杜甫
Birchleaf-pear-tree Man = Du Fu(712-770)
天末懷李白
Sky/day/heaven/god/celestial end/latter-part/final-stage/last/end/insignificant think-of/to-harbor-in-one’s-mind/carry-in-bosom Li/plum Bai/white
[Li Bai= one of the greatest poets of the Tang Dynasty]


涼風起天末,
Cool/cold/disheartened wind start/launches/rise/go-up-to sky/heaven/celestial end/last/final/insignificant
君子意如何。
Nobleman/gentleman child/son meaning/thought/idea/wish/ desire/opinion as/as-if/like what/why/how/which
[Nobleman child = nobleman, person of noble character], [as/as-if what= what way, how]
鴻雁幾時到,
Species-of-wild-swan/vast/large/great wild-goose what/how-many/how-much time arrive/until/go-to
[Species-of-wild-swan wild-goose = swan goose]
江湖秋水多。
River/large-river/Yangtze lake autumn/fall water many/a-lot-of/much
[River lake= around the whole country, rivers and lakes], [autumn water= similar to the verse in Poem#12, refers to waves, metaphor of ups and downs.]
文章憎命達,
Literary/literature/culture/writings works/article/essay/composition detest/hate/abhor life/fate/order/destiny/luck eminent/amount-to/intelligent/attain/reach/arrive-at
魑魅喜人過。
Spirits/a-mountain-demon-resembling-a-tiger devils/demon/forest-demon/elf like/love/enjoy/happy/fond-of/pleased/delight people pass/cross/go-over/get-along/excessively/go-through
[Spirits devils = spirits and devils (usually harmful), demons]
應共冤魂語,
Should/ought-to/must/answer/respond/comply-with  together/share/common/general injustice/grievance/injustice/wrong soul/spirits language/word/expression
[injustice soul/spirits= ghost of one who died unjustly, departed spirit demanding vengeance for grievances]
投詩贈汨羅。
Send/throw/invest/cast/fling poem/verse/ode give-as-a-present/bestow/confer Mi/sink Luo/net-for-catching-birds/gauze
[Mi Luo (River)= the river in Hu’nan, where the famous poet Qu Yuan drowned himself because of injustice from the emperor.], [Note: When Du wrote this poem, he knew Li Bai was exiled to Yelang, so he assumed Li would pass by the Miluo River.]


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