Three Drinking Poems for National Poetry Day

Three Drinking Poems for National Poetry Day

Will Snippets 2 Comments

National poetry day this year takes “memory” as its theme, so I thought that I should share these three rough translations from Chinese. All three of them are drinking poems — oblivion and forgetting being the other side of memory. The first poem is by Liu Zongyuan (柳宗元), and is about drinking wine at night in a Buddhist temple. The second is by Du Mu (杜牧), and is about drunken hermits. And the third is a lovely poem by Yu Xuanji (魚玄機), written in recollection of her lover.

I hope that you enjoy them.

 

“In the Western Pavilion of Fahua Temple
Drinking at Night”, by Liu Zongyuan.

In the Jeta grove,
  by the setting sun pavilion,

together we pour
  meditation-wine.

The fog is dark,
  the river laps the steps,

the moon is bright,
  flowers veil the window.

We’re not yet done
  with getting drunk—

gazing at each other,
  hair not yet white.

 

法華寺西亭夜飲

祇樹夕陽亭
共傾三昧酒
霧暗水連階
月明花覆牖
莫厭尊前醉
相看未白首

 

* * *

 

“Drunken Sleep”
by Du Mu (803-852)

Autumn dregs,
  fermenting in the rain;

a cold hut,
  among falling leaves;

the hermit
  has overslept—

he pours more wine,
  empties his cup.

 

醉眠

秋醪雨中熟
寒齋落葉中
幽人本多睡
更酌一樽空

 

* * *

 

“A Letter Sent to Guo Xiang”
by Yu Xuanji (844-869)

Morning and evening,
  my body’s drunken ache,
our mutual longings
  returning with the spring.

Through the rain,
  the messenger carries a letter,
and I stand by the window,
  broken-hearted.

In the mountains, I roll
  the pearl curtain and gaze.
Sadness returns
  like new fragrant grass.

Going and coming,
  from elegant feasts—
how much dust,
  fallen from the rafters?

 

寄國香

旦夕醉吟身
相思又此春
雨中寄書使
窗下斷腸人
山捲珠簾看
愁隨芳草新
別來清宴上
幾度落梁塵

 

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