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Lyrics translations

Chinese Songs. Part II

Chinese Songs. Part II

Letter To My Wife

I am sending to my wife
Li Po (701-762)

There’s no time and place
To rest in this land –

The road is taking me
Further from home.

I moved to the boat,
I live on the lake,

And sending this letter
I got sad again.

Together with me
You cannot roam the world,

You live in the north
And I work in the south.

Since I left my family
And my sweet home,

For three years I hardly
Have heard from my wife.

Your face grew pale,
And hair went grey –

How can I bring back
Your young happy smile?

A guest once arrived,
All tipsy from wine,

From you he was holding
A “five-coloured fish”.

I was reading
Embroidered signs of love

And it seemed
The hieroglyphs were weeping,

Many rivers and mountains
Stand between us,

But we share the same
Thoughts and desires.

My Heart is Sad, Thoughts in Dismay…

* * *
Li Ch’ing-chao (1084-1155)

My heart is sad, thoughts in dismay,
And every sound disturbs.
The world around is glum and cold,
And emptiness – it hurts.
A ray of light appears and then
It’s cold and dark again.
A cup of wine can’t cure the chill
Of nasty wind and rain.

A voice is calling out to me,
“Our good old friend, good bye!”
This is a flock of wild geese
Flying in the sky.
There used to be chrysanthemums,
They are no more in bloom.
Who will remember them and why?
They sadly reached their doom.
I’m sitting by the window and
The sorrow weighs on me.
As if to make it even worse
It’s raining endlessly.
The tung tree’s soaked to the roots.
At dusk it is so cold.
A silver lining won’t appear
In sky and in my soul.

Vernal Wind, Road Dust…

At the post house I was caught in a small rain; it became incredibly beautiful
Lu Yu (1125-1210)

Vernal wind and road dust
     were since morning with me on the road.
A quick rain watered the hills –
     I happily continue my journey.
In the steep ravine there’s a narrow bridge
     hanging above the river.
Petals are falling off the flowers
     and rolling down the hill.
A cloud is right in front of my eyes
     is hovering like a bird.
Below is a gushing mountain stream
     that growls like a storm.
It’s funny that being a savant I am
     constantly risking my life:
I take dangerous mountain trails
     and wander there all day.

* * *
Li Ch’ing-chao (1084-1155)

Again I see the vast of water,
A quiet sunset up the hill.
You and I have got too tipsy,
We forgot the way back home.
We’d been happy – then it was gone!..
We need to row towards our place,
But the flowers of lotus spread out
And are always in our way.
We grabbed our paddles and rowed,
We plugged for all we were worth.
…The gulls that were around us
Got scared and flew away.
Again I see the vast of water,
A quiet sunset up the hill.
You and I have got too tipsy,
We forgot the way back home…

My Century’s Events are Worthless…

I spent a lonely night in the mountains
Sin Chi-chzi (1140-1207)

My century’s events are worthless,
All – from beginning to the end – are worthless.
Autumn has settled down for a long time
And brought along enjoyable calmness.
I cannot sleep. My ears pick up noises
Being painfully sensitive tonight.
How gushing and boiling is the river –
Why is it constantly complaining?

*  *  *
Sin Chi-chzi (1140-1207)

I am alone responsible for my life,
I have no desire to question the skies!
All alone I’m standing on a tower,
Sorrow has occupied my heart.
You met me at an untimely hour:
Sleep falls on me, my soul longs for rest…
I think you’d better return to your home,
I think you’d better return to your home…
And may the wind from the west
Bring autumn along!

The Boat by the Lake is Only for Three…

By the lake together with a dignitary, singing poems, drinking wine
Po Chü-i (772-846)

The boat by the lake
     is only for three.
Tonight the waters
     are calm and almost still.

The two of us leisurely
     picked up the oars
And rowed the boat
     across the vastness of lake.

The rain had beaten
     down the sand and dust.
Today the wind
     dispersed the mist and fog.

The sunset sky is
     flaming through branches of trees.
Last flecks of sunlight
     splash on bamboo leaves.

My friend and I happened
     to come here by chance.
However it seems that
     nature’s been waiting for us.

The white gulls didn’t
     get scared and fly away,
The green grass softly
     caressed our hands…

Although we don’t have
     all our hair and teeth,
The fervour of youth
     has not yet abandoned us.

Our hearts still have enough spirits
     to sit with a friend
Enjoying the poetry
     and drinking a cup of wine.

Translated by: Natalia Ilina

© 2011 Little Tragedies