Wang Wei, Deer Park
Deer Park (after Wang Wei)
Empty mountain: no person visible,
yet human conversation echoes audibly.
Returning sunlight pierces shadowy forest,
shining again over blue-green moss.
[Tang Dynasty Chinese Original / Transliteration / Literal Translation]
Kōngshān bùjiàn rén,
[empty] [mountain] [not] [see] [person]
dàn wén rén yǔ xiǎng.
[yet] [hear] [person] [voice] [sound]
Fǎn jǐng rù shēnlín,
[reflect, return] [sunlight] [enter] [deep] [forest]
fù zhào qīngtái shàng.
[again] [shine] [blue, green, black] [moss] [on]
N.B. I have no Chinese and only rudimentary knowledge of Wang Wei. However, I am a big fan of Ellot Weinberger and Octavio Paz's small book: 19 Ways of Looking at Wang Wei: How a Chinese Poem is Translated. In fact, I have returned often to this volume since first being assigned to read it over 30 years ago in a college class. Sometimes I just use it to stimulate my thinking on poetry, aesthetics, and translation--and I recommend it to anybody interested in these matters--it's a quick but engrossing read. More than a few times, though, I have essayed my own translation in response to the ones collected in the book. This summer, to my great pleasure, my son, aged 15, and I read it together and each tried a translation. I realize that (as per the title of the Weinberger/Paz book) the world does not necessarily need more translations of this particular poem, but I am somewhat pleased with some things in mine in comparison to others, particularly the near rhymes of assonance and consonance (although mine go AABB, in contrast to the ABAB of the original) and the restriction to five English words in each line in correspondence to five characters in each original line... Anyway, I don't have an original poem to post just now so I thought I'd give this a go here. Certainly I like it better than the others I have done over the years...