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Lyrics translations

Chinese Songs. Part I

Chinese Songs. Part I


I’m Sitting in front of a Full Cup Not Drinking…

Sharing feelings, which invaded me in the cold night
Lu Yu (1125-1210)

I’m sitting in front of a full cup –
     not drinking.
The sad thoughts intoxicate
     more than wine.
I have seen a lot,
     I have been to many places –
I couldn’t bury my sorrow
     in any of them.
I came to the capital,
     remember, ‘twas long ago.
My horse was running
     and shaking its bushy mane.
Late on the blue tower
     we enjoyed drinking wine,
And happy songs were
     raising up to the skies.
Impossible would be
     to bring the happy days back.
The shoulders are touched
     by long and silver hair.
How beautiful is
     the moon over Mountain high:
Autumn has come,
     I share my sadness with moon.
Towards the morning
     the moonlight falls on the bed:
It’s empty – I haven’t slept,
     cicadae sang wide.
I realized:
     the sorrow won’t let me go –
Why would I want
     to leave my dear home?

Absorbed in My Thoughts

Night in the village
Tu Fu (712-770)

Strong wind and hateful
Started blowing,

And nobody
Is by the river.

The mill is making
Sullen noise.

The neighbors’ windows
Throw light.

I had to settle
Down here –

The years have brought
A lot of pain!

My brothers,
They are in the capital,

Ten thousands li
Keep us apart.

Absorbed in My Thoughts
Tu Fu (712-770)

On the tree
An oriole is tweeting,

And seagulls
Swimming by the isle.

Tonight the flowers
Look so sad,

The quiet river is
No more calm.

A grey-haired man,
I’m making wine from millet.

The rain is knocking
At my sill.

I am content
With what I have:

In solitude
I need no fame.

Sitting Carefree in the Shadow of the Pavilion

Written off-hand in the pavilion by the lake
Lu Yu (1125-1210)

I’m sitting carefree in a pavilion,
     playing a jasper flute.
Grieving over the past
     I wasted a whole decade.
An old tree fell down in the stream –
     who will remember it?
Dry wormwood has no idea
     where it’ll be brought by the wind.
The plane-tree by the well at noon
     bears silence and shade.
Ripples spread over the shallow lake
     and slightly wavers the weed.
People are likely to seek joy –
     this has been so for long.
This rule is all known – is there a need
     for it to be explained?

A Pavilion on the Western Cliff
Lu Yu (1125-1210)

I spent in pavilion half of the day,
     a cup was my only friend.
Autumn view of the mountain peaks,
     its beauty is that what I watched.
I know that words will not be enough
     to tell the charm of this place.
I’m happy – I’m wandering over the mountains,
     carefree and left to my own.
Eagles are flying down from high rocks,
     squawking and screaming all day.
Deep in ravine down by the lake
     deer trout in the dusk.
He, who lives freely and goes as he pleases,
     joy will find on the road.
He, who spends life in the house of richness,
     is almost like one who is caged.

At the Window

At the Window
Su Shih (1037-1101)

In my neighbors’ garden I see
Many white poplars growing free.
Started raining at night – when it rains
The rustle of leaves quickly gains.

I don’t feel like going to bed,
I’m sitting alone at the window,
I would be tremendously sad
If night butterflies didn’t come near…

* * *
Su Shih (1037-1101)

As I reached this far away place
The rain started and wind.
A lonely wanderer – will I
Find a shelter in the big world?

I wish I took one of the clouds
And put it on like a hat.
I wish I could wrap in the soil
Like a coat to save from the wet.

There Came an Unexpected Guest…

Following the Style of the Old Times
Su Shih (1037-1101)

There came an unexpected guest
And was knocking at my gate.
He tied his horse to a tree
And had patience to wait.
My backyard was empty,
The birds had flown away,
My gate was locked,
The guest did try nothing to say.

I was lying there asleep
After reading a book to the end,
I was dreaming about
An old and very good friend…
Only this constant knocking
Broke at last through my dreams,
Like a cup that is emptied
My sleep left no theme.

I threw my blanket aside,
And jumped to my feet,
I ran to the gate
My shy guest to meet.
First we stood all confused,
Then we started a talk
Of the present and past,
Forgetting ranks, took a walk.

“How that happened”, he asked me,
“That you live in this place?”
I said, “I don’t know”
Turning down my face.

Wanderer

* * *
Su Shih (1037-1101)

A waning moon and bare trees,
The water clock stopped counting drops.
All is still. There’s nobody
Who sees
The wanderer
With sullen thoughts of his.

All is still. There’s nobody
Who sees
The wanderer
With sullen thoughts of his,
Like swan
Who’s left behind his flock
He flitted suddenly and turned.
Like swan
Who’s left behind his flock
He flitted suddenly and turned.
Who knows why there’s sorrow in his look!
Sought for a nest,
But there weren’t…
Sought for a nest,
But there weren’t
Shelters
Where he could rest. Beyond
The river cold
A maple stood,
A waning moon and bare trees…
A waning moon and bare trees,
The water clock stopped counting drops.
All is still. There’s nobody
Who sees
The wanderer
With sullen thoughts of his.
All is still. There’s nobody
Who sees
The wanderer
With sullen thoughts of his.

Do You Remember How We Said Goodbye?

To Gao Shi-Yan
Tu Fu (712-770)

Do you remember
How we said goodbye?

Now we got older,
My dear friend.

A brilliant success
And easy life

Had neither you
Nor I in the end.

I lost all my friends,
Have no more debates,

It’s been a long time
Since I was in a bar.

But now meeting you
I forget all my pain –

It seems joyful days
Are not really far.

Do you remember
How we said goodbye?

Now we got older,
My dear friend.

A brilliant success,
And easy life

Had neither you
Nor I in the end.

A brilliant success,
And easy life

Had neither you
Nor I in the end.



Translated by: Natalia Ilina



© 2011 Little Tragedies