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The Journey to the West

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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Discovered by Accident - by Du Mu

Here is a poem by the Tang poet Du Mu I stumbled upon this morning and decided to translate.  The poem has an interesting title -  偶题 - which literally could be translated as Accidental Topic.   But that doesn't seem quite right as the title for a poem as supple and profound as this is, as perhaps you'll agree once you read my translation.  Hard to believe this was written in the early 9th century.

The Way through
The human state of things
May be transmitted by verse

When we’re young
We tread light and easy
But that changes with
The coming years

Today finds us embarked
On a long ocean voyage
Raised on the waves
And buoyant with hope

Not yet arrived
At the Island of Peng Lai
Still short of those Immortal
Shores it seems

*  *  *  *  *

One explanatory note.  The reference in the last stanza to the Island of Peng Lai - this is a place where the Immortals resided located not so far off the coast of Mainland China.

Here's the text of the original:






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