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The Journey to the West

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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

An Old Translation Lost and a New One Found

This afternoon I came across an image on Twitter ( a photo by @maryfrancesness) and it brought to mind one of my favorite Wang Wei poems.  I looked and I looked but I couldn't find my old translation of the poem - it was one of the first Tang poems I ever remember translating.  Simple as it is, it captures much of the ethos of Tang poetry - it's as much a meditation as it is a poem, a moment of solitary reflection that is preserved for posterity in four lines of verse. So really it is a shared meditation, shared that is between writer and reader in a simple and intimate way -- here's what I saw in the mountains one day.  It's such a short beautiful poem, I figured why not translate it again, and here's the result together with the photo that sparked my recollection.

Deer Park (by Wang Wei)

An empty mountainside
No one to be seen
But the echo of voices resounds
Sunlight reaches deep into the woods
Again the green moss glistens

鹿柴 (王维)


And here is the poem that I tweeted in reply to @maryfrancesness and in homage to the great Wang Wei:
On a sheer face of stone
Where none can be seen
Deep inside a crevasse
A green sward glistens


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