Poems of Tang Dynasty with English Translation

This website contains over fifty poems from the Tang Dynasty of China (618-907 AD) and my attempt to translate them to English. This project was motivated by the Grand Music of Tang, which is a suite of 24 classical-guitar pieces composed by Ssu-Yu Huang. Each guitar piece was inspired by a specific poem from the Tang Dynasty. My translation is intended to be idiomatic, apprehensible for western cultures, and rhyming whenever possible. Please also see Song Verses with English Translations. The materials at this website are copyrighted. They can be used for educational or noncommercial purposes with a reference to this webite; other uses must be explicitly authorized. This website was launched on February 6, 2008. Last update was on March 23, 2012. If you have any suggestion, comment, or request about my translation, please email me. -Ying Sun.       Copyright © 2008-2012 Ying Sun


李 白 Li Bai
1. 早發白帝城 Through Yangzi Gorges
2. 清平調 Lady Yang
3. 聽蜀僧濬彈琴 Monk Jun Playing the Lute
4. 月下獨酌 Drinking Alone with the Moon
5. 將進酒 Bring in the Wine
6. 靜夜思 In the Quiet of the Night
7. 黃鶴樓送孟浩然 之廣陵 Farewell to Meng Hao-Ran
8. 送友人 Farewell to a Friend
杜甫 Du Fu
1. 春夜喜雨 Welcome Rain in a Spring Night
2. 吹笛 Somber Flute
3. 春望 Spring Prospect
4. 江南逢李龜年 Encounter of Li Gui-Nian in Jiangnan
5. 登高 Climbing the Baidi Hill
6. 兵 車行 Chariots Ballad
王維 Wang Wei
1. 竹里館 Bamboo Lodge
2. 鹿柴 Deer Enclosure
3. 相思 Yearning
4. 渭城曲 Wei City Song
5. 雜詩 Incidental Poem
杜牧 Du Mu
1. 秋夕 Autumn Night
2. 赤壁 Red Cliffs
3. 泊秦淮 Mooring by Qinhuai
4. 寄揚州韓綽判官 To Judge Han Chuo
杜秋娘 Du Qiu-Niang
1. 金縷 衣
張繼 Zhang Ji
1. 風橋夜泊 Docking Over Night by Maple Bridge
孟浩然 Meng Hao-Ran
1. 宿建 德江 Mooring on Jiande River
2. 春曉 Spring Morning
王翰 Wang Han
1. 涼州詞 Liang State Verse
李頻 Li Pin
1. 渡漢江
白 居易 Bai Ju-Yi
1. 長 恨歌 The Song of Everlasting Regret 
2. 琵 琶行 The Pipa Tune
3. Grass
4. 問劉十九 Visiting Mr. Liu
李端 Li Duan
1. 聽箏 Lady Playing Zither
劉長卿 Liu Chang-Qing
1. 彈 琴 Playing The Guqing
李頎 Li Qi
1. 琴歌 Deeply Moved by Music
李賀 Li He
1. 李憑箜篌引 Deeply Moved by Music
溫庭筠 Wen Ting-Yun
1. 瑤瑟 怨 Jade Lute Sorrow
張九齡 Wen Ting-Yun
1. 望 月懷遠 Viewing the Moon, Thinking of You
柳宗元 Liu Zong-Yuan
1. 江 雪 Snow on the River
韋應物 Wei Ying-Wu
1. 滁州西 澗 By the West Brook in Chuzhou
王之渙 Wang Zhi-Huan
1. 登 鸛雀樓 Up the Stork Tower
2. 出 塞 Beyond the Border
盧綸 Lu Lun
1. 塞下曲 其二
李益 Li Yi
1. 夜上受降城聞笛
劉禹錫 Liu Yu-Xi
1. 烏 衣巷
李商隱 Li Shang-Yin
1. 無題 Poem Without Title
2. 錦瑟 The Adorned Zither
3. 夜雨 寄北 Rainy Night Notes to a Friend
4. 登 樂遊原 Up to the Ancient Burial Ground
5. 嫦娥 Moon Goddess

早發白帝城 (李白)

朝辭白帝彩雲間,
千里江陵一日還。
兩岸猿聲啼不住,
輕舟己過萬重山。
Through Yangzi Gorges (Li Bai, 701-762 AD, China)            Ying Sun © 2008 

In Baidi City color clouds are swirling,     as I leave at dawn.
I'll cover hundreds miles to Jiangling     when the day is done.
Apes from both riverbanks screak      with echoes lingering on.
Through thousands mountain peaks      my light boat has gone.

清平調 (李白)
其一
雲想衣裳花想容,
春風拂檻露華濃。
若非群玉山頭見,
會向瑤臺月下逢。
其二
一枝紅豔露凝香,
雲雨巫山枉斷腸。
借問漢宮誰得似?
可憐飛燕倚新妝。
其三
名花傾國兩相歡,
長得君王帶笑看。
解釋春風無限恨,
沉香亭北倚闌干。
Lady Yang (Li Bai, 701-762 AD, China)                                     Ying Sun © 2008

Her dress is like a cloud, her face a flower.
The spring breeze reveals a peony after shower.
If she isn’t a goddess on Jade Mountain,
She's a moon fairy from heaven I’m certain.

A glamourous peony emerges in fragrant dew,
Unlike the Wu Mountain goddess so untrue.
Who in the Han Palace could match up?
Pitiful Lady Feiyan in her heavy makeup.

The flower and the beauty are so much alike.
The Emperor can't stop grinning at the sight.
No more sorrow carried by the spring breeze.
Life at the Chenxiang Gazebo is such an ease.

聽蜀僧濬彈琴 (李白)

蜀僧抱綠綺,
西下峨眉峰。
為我一揮手,
如聽萬壑松。
客心洗流水,
余響入霜鐘。
不覺碧山暮,
秋雲暗幾重。
Monk Jun Playing the Lute (Li Bai, 701-762 AD, China)        Ying Sun © 2008

The monk from Sichuan carries his famous lute,
Coming down Mount Emei via the west route.
With just one stroke he begins playing for me -
Like whispering from thousands of pinetrees.
It soothes, like a river running through my heart.
The residual tones blend in with temple bells afar.
Unknowingly the day on green hills has gone by.
I gaze at autumn clouds piling up in the dark sky.

月下獨酌 (李白)

花間一壺酒,
獨酌無相親;
舉杯邀明月,
對影成三人。
月既不解飲,
影徒隨我身;
暫伴月將影,
行樂須及春。
我歌月徘徊,
我舞影零亂;
醒時同交歡,
醉後各分散。
永結無情遊,
相期邈雲漢。
Drinking Alone with the Moon (Li Bai, 701-762 AD, China)   Ying Sun © 2008

From a wine pot amidst the flowers,
I drink alone without partners.
To invite the moon I raise my cup.
We’re three, as my shadow shows up.
Alas, the moon doesn’t drink.
My shadow follows but doesn’t think.
Still for now I have these friends,
To cheer me up until the spring ends.
I sing; the moon wanders.
I dance; the shadow scatters.
Awake, together we have fun.
Drunk, separately we’re gone.
Let’s be boon companions forever,
Pledging, in heaven, we’ll be together.

將進酒 (李白)

君不見黃河之水天上來,
奔流到海不復回?
君不見高堂明鏡悲白髮,
朝如青絲暮成雪?
人生得意須盡歡,
莫使金樽空對月。
天生我才必有用,
千金散盡還復來。
烹羊宰牛且為樂,
會須一飲三百杯。
岑夫子,丹丘生,
將進酒,杯莫停。
與君歌一曲,
請君為我傾耳聽:
鍾鼓饌玉不足貴,
但願長醉不願醒。
古來聖賢皆寂寞,
唯有飲者留其名。
陳王昔時宴平樂,
斗酒十千恣讙謔。
主人為何言少錢?
徑須沽取對君酌。
五花馬、千金裘。
呼兒將出換美酒,
與爾同銷萬古愁。
Bring in the Wine (Li Bai, 701-762 AD, China)                        Ying Sun © 2008

Can’t you see the Yellow River coming from heaven,
Running to the sea with no return?
Can’t you see the mirror, high and bright,
Weeping over black hair at dawn, but white by night?
Enjoy life when there is prosperity.
Never tip a gold cup to the moon, empty.
Heaven has given me a gift and it’s my turn.
All my fortune is squandered, but it will return.
Let's have fun - a fest with veal and beef.
Empty three hundred drinks before we leave.
Master Cen, Pupil Danqiu,
Bring in the wine and I'll keep pouring for you.
And I'll sing you a song.
Please listen and hum along:
The life style of the rich is all fake.
I’d rather stay drunk, never awake.
All sages in history were solitary,
Except those drinkers who left their glory.
When Lord Chen entertained in Ping-Le Palace,
Pricey wine was poured just for joyfulness.
Why worry about spending money, my host?
Bring in more wine and I’ll drink the most.
Take my spotted stallion and fancy fur.
Ask the lad to trade for the wine I prefer.
Drink away the eternal sorrow we all suffer.

靜夜思 (李白)

床前明月光,
疑是地上霜。
舉頭望明月,
低頭思故鄉。
In the Quiet of the Night (Li Bai, 701-762 AD, China)              Ying Sun © 2008

Moonlight reflects off the front of my bed.
Could it be frost on the ground instead?
I look up to view the bright moon ahead.
Thoughts of hometown bring down my head.

黃鶴樓送孟浩然之廣陵 (李白)

故人西辭黃鶴樓,
煙花三月下揚州。
孤帆遠影碧空盡,
唯見長江天際流。
Farewell to Meng Hao-Ran (Li Bai, 701-762 AD, China)         Ying Sun © 2008

West of the Yellow Crane Tower to an old pal I say goodbye.
He leaves for Yangzhou in mid spring when flower petals fly.
The shadow of his lonely sail gradually fades into the blue sky,
Until I can only see the Yangzi River from heaven rumbling by.

送友人 (李白)

青山橫北郭,
白水繞東城。
此地一為別,
孤蓬萬里征。
浮雲遊子意,
落日故人情。
揮手自茲去,
蕭蕭班馬鳴。
Farewell to a Friend (Li Bai, 701-762 AD, China)                    Ying Sun © 2008

Green hills lie beyond the northern city walls.
Surrounding the east side are white waterfalls.
From this scenery spot you are about to depart,
Like a tumbling weed traveling thousands miles afar.
Drifting clouds represent the traveler’s mindset.
But our friendship is eternal, just like the sunset.
We waive our hands as you are on your way.
Our horses call each other even from very far away.

春夜喜雨 (杜甫)

好雨知時節,
當春乃發生。
隨風潛入夜,
潤物細無聲。
野徑雲俱黑,
江船火獨明。
曉看紅濕處,
花重錦官城。
Welcome Rain in a Spring Night (Du Fu, 712-770 AD, China)
                                                                                                          Ying Sun © 2008
Good rain is coming      to our delight.
Its early-spring timing      is perfectly right.
With wind it drifts in      all through the night.
Silently it's drenching     everything in sight.
Clouds and ranches    are black without moonlight.
Riverboat torches       project the only light.
The wet red patches     in Chengdu's twilight
Are flower branches,    heavier but bright.

吹笛 (杜甫)

吹笛秋山風月清,
誰家巧作斷腸聲?
風飄律呂相和切,
月傍關山幾處明?
胡騎中宵堪北走,
武陵一曲想南征。
故園楊柳今搖落,
何得愁中卻盡生?
Somber Flute(Du Fu, 712-770 AD, China)                               Ying Sun © 2008

The wind carries flute music from hills under autumn moon.
Who is playing this fantastic but somber tune?
In sync with the melody the whispering wind is a boon.
How many mountain passes are illuminated by the moon?
The nostalgic music sent the Hu warriors back to the north.
The Wu-Ling tune reminiscences the campaign in the south.
The withering willows in the old yard are in poor health.
In these hard times, how could they sustain the growth?

春望 (杜甫)

國破山河在,
城春草木深。
感時花濺淚,
恨別鳥驚心。
烽火連三月,
家書抵萬金。
白頭搔更短,
渾欲不勝簪。
Spring Prospect (Du Fu, 712-770 AD, China)                         Ying Sun © 2008
(This version includes the change by Jan Walls on May 31, 2009. Thanks, Dr. Walls!)
The country is in ruins, but hills and streams remain.
Grass and trees prosper as spring comes again.
Flowers spatter tears when hard times dominate.
Birds alarm the heart that hates to separate.
For three months beacon fires have continued to hold.
A letter from home now is worth its weight in gold.
Scratching my grey hair has made it grow so thin,
There's hardly enough to support a hairpin.

江南逢李龜年 (杜甫)

岐王宅裡尋常見,
崔九堂前幾度聞。
正是江南好風景,
落花時節又逢君。
Encounter of Li Gui-Nian in Jiangnan (Du Fu, 712-770 AD, China)
                                                                                                             Ying Sun © 2008
I used to see you at Lord Qi’s residence,
And at Cuijiu Hall hear your performance.
It's the most scenic season now in Jiangnan.
How nice, when flowers fly, to see you again.

登高 (杜甫)

風急天高猿嘯哀,
渚清沙白鳥飛回。
無邊落木蕭蕭下,
不盡長江滾滾來。
萬里悲秋常作客,
百年多病獨登台。
艱難苦恨繁霜鬢,
潦倒新停濁酒杯。
Climbing the Baidi Hill (Du Fu, 712-770 AD, China)                Ying Sun © 2008

Swift wind from clear sky carries apes cry so somber.
Waterfowls soar above the white sand and clear water.
Foliage of the endless forest fall, swishing and rustling.
The eternal Yangzi River comes, rumbling and tumbling.
Thousands miles from home, autumn's often depressing.
Troubled by sickness all my life, yet alone I’m climbing.
Too much hardship and adversity makes my hair grayer.
Poverty in recent years has forced me to give up liquor.

兵車行 (杜甫)

車轔轔,馬蕭蕭,
行人弓箭各在腰。
耶娘妻子走相送,
塵埃不見咸陽橋。
牽衣頓足攔道哭,
哭聲直上干雲霄。
道旁過者問行人,
行人但云點行頻。
或從十五北防河,
便至四十西營田。
去時里正與裹頭,
歸來頭白還戍邊。
邊庭流血成海水,
武皇開邊意未已。

君不聞,
漢家山東二百州,
千村萬落生荊杞。
縱有健婦把鋤犁,
禾生隴畝無東西。
況復秦兵耐苦戰,
被驅不異犬與雞。
長者雖有問,
役夫敢伸恨?
且如今年冬,
未休關西卒。
縣官急索租,
租稅從何出?
信知生男惡,
反是生女好。
生女猶得嫁比鄰,
生男埋沒隨百草。
君不見,青海頭,
古來白骨無人收。
新鬼煩怨舊鬼哭,
天陰雨濕聲啾啾。
Chariots Ballad (Du Fu, 712-770 AD, China)                          Ying Sun © 2012

Chariots rumble, and horses neigh.
Bow and arrows are at each soldier's waist.
Parents and wives follow to bid farewell.
Xianyang Bridge disappears as dust clouds swell.
They grab clothes, stomp feet, block roads, and cry.
The howling goes straight up, high in the sky.
Passing by, I ask the soldiers what's wrong.
They say frequent drafts have gone on just too long.
A boy was drafted at fifteen to defend the north river.
At forty he still serves on the west front as a farmer.
Upon dispatch the village elder wrapped his hair, all black.
He returned with gray hair but still had to go back.
On the fronts, blood sheds so much to form seas.
Emperor Wu's will to expand territories doesn't cease.
Haven't you heard?
East of Hua Mountains there are two hundred states.
Thousands of villages buried in briers lay waste.
Although strong women could plough the fields,
Crops grow haphazardly with poor yields.
Furthermore, soldiers from here are well-known fighters.
But they are exploited like dogs and roosters.
Although you ask us to explain,
Do soldiers dare to complain?
Like the winter of this year,
Relief for the West Gate troop is unclear.
The governor wants his taxes right away.
How to pay the taxes no one can find a way.
Had we known raising a boy child could be so bad,
We would rather give birth to a girl instead.
At least girls can marry to neighbors close by.
Boys are buried far away like weeds to pass by.
Haven't you seen, by the shore of the Green Sea?
Since ancient times skeletons are scattered and let be.
New ghosts are quetching and old ghosts weeping.
On a dismal rainy day you could hear them wailing.

竹里館 (王維)

獨坐幽篁裡,
彈琴復長嘯。
深林人不知,
明月來相照。
Bamboo Lodge (Wang Wei, 699-761 AD, China)                     Ying Sun © 2008

Amidst the shadowy bamboos I sit alone,
Playing the zither and howling long.
Deep in the forest forever unknown,
Comes and shines only the bright moon.

鹿柴 (王維)

空山不見人,
但聞人語響。
返景入深林,
復照青苔上。
Deer Enclosure (Wang Wei, 699-761 AD, China)                     Ying Sun © 2008

In empty mountains not a soul in sight,
Yet I hear echoes of people talking on site.
Through thick woods comes dim twilight;
Its reflection on green moss seems so bright.

相思 (王維)

紅豆生南國,
春來發幾枝。
勸君多採擷,
此物最相思。
Yearning(Wang Wei, 699-761 AD, China)                                 Ying Sun © 2008

In southern lands the red bean tree grows.
It sprouts when the vernal breeze blows.
Pick the red beans with your hands filled.
Your yearning for love will be fulfilled.

渭城曲 (王維)

渭城朝雨浥輕塵,
客舍青青柳色新。
勸君更盡一杯酒,
西出陽關無故人。
Wei City Song (Wang Wei, 699-761 AD, China)                       Ying Sun © 2008

In Wei City the dust is settled by early morning rain.
The willows at the tavern become fresh green again.
My friend, please empty one more drink with me...
West of Yang Gate no more old friends to see.

雜詩 (王維)

君自故鄉來,
應知故鄉事。
來日綺窗前,
寒梅著花未。
Incidental Poem (Wang Wei, 699-761 AD, China)                    Ying Sun © 2008

You came from my hometown,
So must know what was going on.
When passing by the silk window,
Did you see plum blossoms in snow?

秋夕 (杜牧)

銀燭秋光冷畫屏,
輕羅小扇撲流螢。
天階夜色涼如水,
臥看牽牛織女星。
Autumn Night (Du Mu, 803-852 AD, China)                            Ying Sun © 2008

Silvery candles project chill light on a screen pane.
The concubine catches fireflies with her little silk fan.
Marble stairs in the palace at night are as cold as rain.
Laying down, she fancies Libra and Lyra to join again.

赤壁 (杜牧)

折戟沈沙鐵未銷,
自將磨洗認前朝。
東風不與周郎便,
銅雀春深鎖二喬。
Red Cliffs (Du Mu, 803-852 AD, China)                                    Ying Sun © 2008

I unearth a spearhead that hasn't completely rusted away,
Brush it and clean it to study the ancient warlords way.
Had the east wind not come to General Zhou’s aid,
Tongque Tower would’ve been for the Qiao sisters to stay.

泊秦淮 (杜牧)

煙籠寒水月籠沙,
夜泊秦淮近酒家。
商女不知亡國恨,
隔江猶唱後庭花。
Mooring by Qinhuai (Du Mu, 803-852 AD, China)                  Ying Sun © 2008

Smoke was on the water and moon over the sand.
The night mooring by a Qinhuai tavern wasn't planned.
Despite the crumbled realm showgirls felt no somber,
Singing Courtyard Flowers on wrong side of the river.

寄揚州韓綽判官 (杜牧)

青山隱隱水迢迢,
秋盡江南草未凋。
二十四橋明月夜,
玉人何處教吹簫。
To Judge Han Chuo (Du Mu, 803-852 AD, China)                   Ying Sun © 2008

From mist the green hills emerge and afar the river flows.
Grass still grows in Jiangnan, yet the end of fall is close.
Over the Twenty-Four Bridges the bright moon glows.
Where the fair lady teaches the flute no one knows.
金縷衣 (杜秋娘)

勸君莫惜金縷衣,
勸君惜取少年時。
花開堪折直須折,
莫待無花空折枝。
Gold-threaded Gown (Du Qiu-Niang, c.750-850 AD, China)   Ying Sun © 2008

Envy not the gold-threaded gown.
Cherish your youth before it's gone.
Pick the flowers when full-grown.
Don’t let them wither and fall down.

風橋夜泊 (張繼)

月落烏啼霜滿天,
江楓漁火對愁眠。
姑蘇城外寒山寺,
夜半鐘聲到客船。
Docking Overnight by Maple Bridge (Zhang Ji, c. 753 AD, China)
                                                                                                  Ying Sun © 2008
At moonset the crows caw through the frosty sky.
Unable to sleep, I watch maple trees by fishing light.
Outside Gusu, Cold Mountain Temple stands upright.
The sound of its bells reaches my boat at midnight.

宿建德江 (孟浩然)

移舟泊煙渚,
日暮客愁新。
野曠天低樹,
江清月近人。
Mooring on Jiande River (Meng Hao-Ran, 689-740 AD, China)
                                                                                                  Ying Sun © 2008
My boat approaches a misty islet for mooring.
At sunset the nostalgic thought begins growing.
On open fields the sky on treetops seems pressing.
Reflected from clear water, the moon is ever so touching.

春曉 (孟浩然)

春眠不覺曉,
處處聞啼鳥。
夜來風雨聲,
花落知多少。
Spring Morning (Meng Hao-Ran, 689-740 AD, China)            Ying Sun © 2008

I wake up with the sun up high.
Birds chirp everywhere in the sky.
Last night a rainstorm passed by.
Flowers must have fallen down - I sigh.

涼州詞 (王翰)

葡萄美酒夜光杯,
欲飲琵琶馬上催。
醉臥沙場君莫笑,
古來征戰幾人回?
Liang State Verse (Wang Han, 687-726 AD, China)                Ying Sun © 2008

From a jade cup I’m about to drink the finest grape wine,
But they strum pipas on horses, urging me to fall in line.
Don’t laugh if I lay drunk on the battle ground.
After this campaign how many of us will still be around?

渡漢江 (李頻)

嶺外音書絕,
經冬復立春。
近鄉情更怯,
不敢問來人。
Crossing the Han River (Li Pin, 818-876 AD, China)              Ying Sun © 2008

Mail is cut off where I came from.
Winter is gone and spring has come.
Now so close to home I feel shy,
And dare not ask people passing by.

(白居易)

離離原上草,
一歲一枯榮。
野火燒不盡,
春風吹又生。
遠芳侵古道,
晴翠接荒城。
又送王孫去,
萋萋滿別情。
Grass(Bai Ju-Yi, 772-846 AD, China)                                      Ying Sun © 2008

Prosperously the grass on the plains grows.
In spring it comes and by fall it goes.
Its extinction by the wildfire was close.
But it comes back when vernal breeze blows.
Its verdure encroaches the ancient roads.
By the ruined town its verdancy unfolds.
We have to say goodbye again, my friend.
My sorrow multiplies and will never end.

問劉十九 (白居易)

綠螘新醅酒,
紅泥小火爐。
晚來天欲雪,
能飲一杯無。
Visiting Mr. Liu (Bai Ju-Yi, 772-846 AD, China)                       Ying Sun © 2008

The green wine is freshly brewed.
A small red-clay stove fires the mood.
It’s dark and about to snow too.
Sparing me just one drink will do.

聽箏 (李端)

鳴箏金粟柱,
素手玉房前。
欲得周郎顧,
時時誤拂絃。
Lady Playing Zither (Li Duan, 743-782 AD, China)                   Ying Sun © 2008

Music comes from a zither with gold string posts.
Her pale hands in the jade room are impressive most.
To gain attention from the man whom she adores,
At times she purposely plays the wrong notes.

彈琴 (劉長卿)

冷冷七絃上,
靜聽松風寒。
古調雖自愛,
今人多不彈。
Playing the Guqin (Liu Chang-Qing, 709-780 AD, China)       Ying Sun © 2008

The melody flows out of a seven-string guqin.
Quietly I listen to the old tune “Pine Wind.”
This kind of old tunes are what I most adore.
But today people seldom play them any more.

琴歌 (李頎)

主人有酒歡今夕,
請奏鳴琴廣陵客。
月照城頭烏半飛,
霜淒萬樹風入衣;
銅鑪華燭燭增輝,
初彈淥水後楚妃。
一聲已動物皆靜,
四座無言星欲稀。
清淮奉使千餘里,
敢告雲山從此始。
Deeply Moved by Music (Li Qi, 690-751 AD, China)               Ying Sun © 2008

Tonight our host has prepared wine for a big feast.
He makes a request to his guest, an expert lutenist.
Startled by the moon, the crows on city walls scatter.
The wind through frost-coated trees is piercingly bitter.
As the brass stove and candles warm up the crew,
The lutenist plays Lu River, then Princess Chu.
The room turns quiet when he begins to play.
Not a word from the crowd until the stars fade away.
The new order sends me a thousand miles to Qinghuai.
Suddenly I long for retirement to mountains in cloudy sky.

李憑箜篌引 (李賀)

吳絲蜀桐張高秋,
空山凝雲頹不流.
湘娥啼竹素女愁,
李憑中國彈箜篌.
昆山玉碎鳳凰叫,
芙蓉泣露香蘭笑.
十二門前融冷光,
二十三絲動紫皇.
女媧煉石補天處,
石破天驚逗秋雨.
夢入神山教神嫗,
老魚跳波瘦蛟舞.
吳質不眠倚桂樹,
露腳斜飛濕寒兔.
Li Ping Playing the Harp (Li He, 790-816 AD, China)              Ying Sun © 2008

Silk strings of a phoenix-wood harp resonate in autumn sky.
Attracted by music, clouds stop drifting and gather high.
Xiang girl’s tears spot the bamboos and fairies are mourning,
All because in the imperial city harpist Li Ping is playing.
Brisk like crashing jade, bright like phoenix’s call.
Somber like peony’s weep, joyful like orchid’s smile.
The twelve gates of the capital emerge from cold light.
All twenty-three strings vibrate to God’s delight.
The sky hole sealed with melt stone by the Goddess...
Is broken again, making autumn rain endless.
I dream of Li Ping helping the harp fairy to advance.
Old fish jump the waves and skinny dragons dance.
By the laurel tree in Moon Palace Wu Gang grows old.
The drifting rain soaks the moon rabbit wet and cold.

瑤瑟怨 (溫庭筠)

冰簟銀床夢不成,
碧天如水夜雲輕。
雁聲遠過瀟湘去,
十二樓中月自明。
Jade Lute Sorrow (Wen Ting-Yun, 812-870 AD, China)          Ying Sun © 2008

Even the bamboo mat and silver bed can’t help her sleep.
Light clouds drift through evening sky, teal as water deep.
From way beyond Hunan comes the fading honk of geese.
The twelve-story pagoda has nothing but moonlight to keep.

望月懷遠 (張九齡)

海上生明月,
天涯共此時。
情人怨遙夜,
竟夕起相思。
滅燭憐光滿,
披衣覺露滋。
不堪盈手贈,
還寢夢佳期。
Viewing the Moon, Thinking of You (Zhang Jiu-Ling, 678-740 AD, China)
                                                                                                 Ying Sun © 2008
As the bright moon shines over the sea,
From far away you share this moment with me.
For parted lovers lonely nights are the worst to be.
All night long I think of no one but thee.
To enjoy the moon I blow out the candle stick.
Please put on your nightgown for the dew is thick.
I try to offer you the moonlight so hard to pick,
Hoping a reunion in my dream will come quick.

江雪 (柳宗元)

千山鳥飛絕,
萬徑人蹤滅。
孤舟簑笠翁,
獨釣寒江雪。
Snow on the River (Liu Zong-Yuan, 773-819 AD, China)        Ying Sun © 2008

Not a bird in a thousand hills.
Not a soul on ten thousand trails.
An old man on a raft in straw quilts
Fishes alone with snowy chills.

滁州西澗 (韋應物)

獨憐幽草澗邊生,
上有黃鸝深樹鳴。
春潮帶雨晚來急,
野渡無人舟自橫。
By the West Brook in Chuzhou (Wei Ying-Wu, 737-792 AD, China)
                                                                                                 Ying Sun © 2008
Green grass by the brook is what I like best.
Yellow orioles sing above in the thick forest.
Overnight rain ushers in the spring flood fast.
A ferryboat is left half-across for lack of guest.

登鸛雀樓 (王之渙)

白日依山盡,
黃河入海流。
欲窮千裡目,
更上一層樓。
Up the Stork Tower (Wang Zhi-Huan, 688-742 AD, China)     Ying Sun © 2008

By the hills the sun loses its glows.
Into the sea the Yellow River flows.
To gain a three-hundred-mile view,
Keep climbing up a floor or few.

出塞 (王之渙)

黃河遠上白雲間,
一片孤城萬仞山。
羌笛何須怨楊柳,
春風不度玉門關。
Beyond the Border (Wang Zhi-Huan, 688-742 AD, China)     Ying Sun © 2008

Yellow River extends to the white clouds and beyond.
By the city stands a peak thousands feet off the ground.
Why does the flutist still play “Blaming the Willow”?
Beyond the Jade Gate the vernal breeze doesn’t blow.
塞下曲 其二 (盧綸)

林暗草驚風,
將軍夜引弓。
平明尋白羽,
沒在石稜中。
The frontier Song, II (Lu Lun, 739-799 AD, China)                  Ying Sun © 2008

Wind disturbed the grass in the dark meadow.
Blinded by nightfall, the general pulled his bow.
At dawn he found his white-plume arrow.
How it sank deep into a rock he didn't know.
夜上受降城聞笛 (李益)

回樂峰前沙似雪,
受降城外月如霜。
不知何處吹蘆管,
一夜征人盡望鄉。
Hearing the Flute at Night on Shouxiang Walls (Li Yi, 748-827 AD, China)
                                                                                                 Ying Sun © 2008
The sand below Huile Peak is as white as snow.
Outside Shouxiang Walls frost-like moonbeams glow.
Someone is playing the flute - not sure from where.
Over night all soldiers get homesickness hard to bear.
烏衣巷 (劉禹錫)

朱雀橋邊野草花,
烏衣巷口夕陽斜。
舊時王謝堂前燕,
飛入尋常百姓家。
Black-Gown Lane (Liu Yu-Xi, 772-842 AD, China)                   Ying Sun © 2008

By the Orioles Bridge wildflowers reign.
Setting sun brightens the Black-Gown Lane.
Swallows used to fly in front of the palace door.
But now they nest in the houses of the poor.

無題 (李商隱)

相見時難別亦難,
東風無力百花殘。
春蠶到死絲方盡,
蠟炬成灰淚始乾。
曉鏡但愁雲鬢改,
夜吟應覺月光寒。
蓬山此去無多路,
青鳥慇勤為探看。
Poem Without Title (Li Shang-Yin, 813-858 AD, China)           Ying Sun © 2008

It’s hard to reunite, even harder to say goodbye.
As the east wind diminishes, all flowers dry.
Silkworms won’t stop weaving until they die.
Candles won’t stop weeping until they expire.
White hair in the mirror worries me every morning.
You must feel cold to study by moonlight in the evening.
Our sanctuary in the Magic Mountain is not far away.
To scout, I send the eager bluebird on its way.

錦瑟 (李商隱)

錦瑟無端五十絃,
一絃一柱思華年。
莊生曉夢迷蝴蝶,
望帝春心託杜鵑;
滄海月明珠有淚,
藍田日暖玉生煙。
此情可待成追憶,
只是當時已惘然。
The Adorned Zither (Li Shang-Yin, 813-858 AD, China)          Ying Sun © 2008

Coincidentally there are fifty strings on my adorned zither.
Every string and post reminds me of our good years together.
Master Chuang was dazzled by the butterfly in his dream.
Emperor Wang’s kindness was spread in spring by cuckoos scream.
The moon shines over the green sea, turning teardrops to pearls.
The sun warms the jade in Blue Fields, emitting smoke curls.
These recollections were the best that I shared with her.
Alas I didn’t realize then how precious those moments were.

夜雨寄北 (李商隱)

君問歸期未有期,
巴山夜雨漲秋池。
何當共剪西窗燭,
卻話巴山夜雨時。
Rainy Night Notes to a Friend (Li Shang-Yin, 813-858 AD, China)
                                                                                                 Ying Sun © 2008
You ask me about the return date, which I can’t tell.
Autumn night rain in Ba Mountains makes the pond swell.
Together by the west window trim the wicks we shall,
And talk about the rainy night in Ba Mountains as well.

登樂遊原 (李商隱)

向晚意不適,
驅車登古原。
夕陽無限好,
只是近黃昏。
Up to the Ancient Burial Ground (Li Shang-Yin, 813-858 AD, China)
                                                                                                 Ying Sun © 2008
In the late afternoon feeling down,
I ride to the ancient burial ground.
Sunset is always wonderful.
Alas it's too close to nightfall.

嫦娥 (李商隱)

雲母屏風燭影深,
長河漸落曉星沈。
嫦娥應悔偷靈藥,
碧海青天夜夜心。
Moon Goddess (Li Shang-Yin, 813-858 AD, China)                 Ying Sun © 2008

Candle shadows on the mica screen become dimmer.
As the Milky Way sinks, twilight stars drift lower.
Moon Goddess should regret stealing the longevity potion,
Being lonely every night above the blue sky and green ocean.

Continue to other pages:
1. 長 恨歌 The Song of Everlasting Regret  
2.
琵 琶行 The Pipa Tune  

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