Topic: "Seeing off the Mountain Man Lù Hóngzhè (Lù Yǔ) to Pick Tea"
"Seeing off the Mountain Man Lù Hóngzhè (Lù Yǔ) to Pick Tea"
by Huángfǔ Zēng of the Táng Dynasty
Thousands of peaks await this recluse,
Fragrant tea bushes bud and grow thick;
For picking, he knows the deepest places,
I envy his solitary journey through glowing morning mists;
His remote destination a distant mountain temple,
Supping in the wilderness, the spring water clear;
Loneliness pervades, I light a lamp at night,
And yearning for his company, sound the stone chime once.
I wanted to translate this poem without looking at other English works, which I did. After finishing my first draft I had a glance at the translation here
If you scroll to the bottom, you can see the translation by Martin Tai titled "Saw Luk Yu off to Pick Tea "
When I read his translation I realized I had not made sense of the envy in the 4th line and the first part of the fifth line. There (generally) are no pronouns in Classical Chinese poems. The language is so terse, that subject and object must often be assumed. The Sage, Lù Yǔ, is referred to once in the first line as the 逋客 būkè, literally: fleeing guest; or more properly: recluse. Therefore, in my translation as well as the translation I consulted all pronouns are guesses. The main difference between the two translations is that in Martin's translation, the writer meets Lù Yǔ at the distant temple in the second half of the poem. However, in the 7th line the night is lonely. In the 4th line, the author envies Lù Yǔ's solitary journey. Lastly in the eighth line the expression 相思 xiāngsī is used. Xiāngsī is a loaded expression, Wang Wei made it famous with his poem of the same title (original poem reproduced at the end of this post). It basically means thinking of each other, it is often a heart-rending yearning for one's home town, or ancestral home. It can also be used in the sense of friends or lovers missing each other. In conclusion, I think this poem makes a little more sense if the author sends Lù Yǔ off and then goes home to think about him.
Which is not to say my translation is better. One of the best things about translating a Chinese poem into English is that because the languages are so different -- English so demanding in terms of tense, subject & object, part of speech, etc; and Classical Chinese so terse -- that these two translations can both be accurate even though they are quite different in some senses.
送陆鸿浙山人采茶 唐 皇甫 曾
Sòng Lù Hóngzhè shànrén cǎichá Táng Huángfǔ Zēng
qiānfēng dàibūkè, xiāngmíng fùcóngshēng
cǎizhāi zhīshènchù, yānxiá xiàndúxíng
yōuqī shānsìyuǎn,yéfàn shíquánqīng
jìjì rándēngyè xiāngsī yīqìngshēng
相思 唐 王维