Ancient Chinese Poems- Su Dongpo’s “Prelude to Water Melody” – Bilingual Chinese and English





  Translation written by Mr.Xu Yuanchong:

  How long will the full moon appear?

  Wine cup in hand, I ask the sky.

  I do not know what time of the year

  ’Twould be tonight in the palace on high.

  Riding the wind, there I would fly,

  Yet I’m afraid the crystalline palace would be

  Too high and cold for me.

  I rise and dance, with my shadow I play.

  On high as on earth, would it be as gay?

  The moon goes round the mansions red

  Through gauze-draped window soft to shed

  Her light upon the sleepless bed.

  Why then when people part, is the oft full and bright?

  Men have sorrow and joy; they part or meet again;

  The moon is bright or dim and she may wax or wane.

  There has been nothing perfect since the olden days.

  So let us wish that man

  Will live long as he can!

  Though miles apart, we’ll share the beauty she displays.


  As translated by Mr.Lin Yutang:

  How rare the moon, so round and clear!

  With cup in hand, I ask of the blue sky,

  ”I do not know in the celestial sphere

  What name this festive night goes by?”

  I want to fly home, riding the air,

  But fear the ethereal cold up there,

  The jade and crystal mansions are so high!

  Dancing to my shadow,

  I feel no longer the mortal tie.

  She rounds the vermilion tower,

  Stoops to silk-pad doors,

  Shines on those who sleepless lie.

  Why does she, bearing us no grudge,

  Shine upon our parting, reunion deny?

  But rare is perfect happiness–

  The moon does wax, the moon does wane,

  And so men meet and say goodbye.

  I only pray our life be long,

  And our souls together heavenward fly!

Author: listenerxu
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