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With my Brother at the South Study Thinking in the Moonlight


dedalus
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With my Brother at the South Study Thinking in the Moonlight

-Wang Changling

 

 

同從弟南齋翫月憶山陰崔少府
高臥南齋時, 開帷月初吐;
清輝淡水木, 演漾在窗戶。
苒苒幾盈虛? 澄澄變今古。
美人清江畔, 是夜越吟苦。
千里其如何? 微風吹蘭杜。

 

Seated on a couch in the south study

we lift the curtain to see the rising moon
pouring its glorious brightness upon the water,
casting ripples of light upon shutters and doors.
It will move through its cycle, full moon to crescent again,
transforming quite vainly from old to new,
and is it shining on the ancient limpid river?
so distinctly human, pure and beautiful,
but the night is bitter with a moaning hum:
there is a distance indeed, and yet,
the scent of orchids on the passing breeze.

Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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Exquisite poetic language and a prompt for all who enjoy the same to read Wang Changling's poems. My assumption is that this is your translation or 'take' as some parts vary from the version I read on-line. G

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Just thinking, with questions. Why does the author mention his brother? From your experiences, do you believe that Japanese, or those of other cultures, think differently than those of us from the so-called Western world? Does "lifting the curtain" mean the physical act or mental? Good mood piece that seems to convey peacefulness, but I sense an anger or resentment undertow. I think I think too much.

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Chinese poetry is generally very direct: what you see is what you get - if you can translate and understand it. They don't seem to be big on inferences and hidden meanings. They have this thing about the moon, century after century. I like the T'ang boys best of all. Because of the ideographical nature of written Chinese people of completely different spoken dialects can all read the same texts. In the same way the ancient language comes alive as modern. I am simply fascinated by this connection of minds over 10-15 centuries and consequently bore modern readers to bits!

Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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Any serious History student can see cultural links between governance and the arts. I only wish my education could be more than cursory. A direct connection, I think, can be seen in religious views and self-image, not just in Asian societies. Damn Bren, always holding forth on such extensive subjects. Reminds me of what one of my bosses told me long ago: "You're educated beyond your capacity." I thought at the time, I'm glad it's not the opposite.

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