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Wang Wei Poetry


In English Translation


The autumn hills hoard scarlet from the setting sun.
Flying birds chase their mates,
Now and then patches of blue sky break clear --
Tonight the evening mists find nowhere to gather.

Magnolia Hermitage
Day after day we can't help growing older.
Year after year spring can't help seeming younger.
Come let's enjoy our winecup today,
Not pity the flowers fallen!

On Parting with Spring
Hidden on this mountain, many Buddhist monks
Chant sutras, meditate together;
Men on distant city walls gazing towards the peaks
See only white, enshrouding clouds.

A Poem to my Brothers and Sisters
How long can one man's lifetime last?
In the end we return to formlessness.
I think of you waiting to die.
A thousand things cause me distress -

Your kind old mother's still alive.
Your only daughter's only ten.
In the vast chilly wilderness
I hear the sounds of weeping men.


Clouds float into a great expanse.
Birds fly but do not sing in flight.
How lonely are the travellers.
Even the sun shines cold and white.

Alas, when you still lived, and asked
To study non-rebirth with me,
My exhortations were delayed-
And so the end came, fruitlessly.

All your old friends have brought you gifts
But for your life these too are late.
I've failed you in more ways than one.
Weeping, I walk back to my gate.


tr.by Vikram Seth
another tr.

Lament for Yin Yao
In middle life I became immersed
in the philosophy of Tao;
Later I went to live
at the foot of South Mountain.
When I am happy I walk alone in the hills.

I know within my heart
what is good and which is beautiful.
When I arrive at the source of the stream
I sit down to rest and to watch the mists rising.
Sometimes I need a time-worn woodcutter --
Talking and laughing together,
we forget it is time to go home!

Chinese

My Retreat at Mount ZhongNan
You have just arrived from my hometown,
And should know what is happening there;
When you came, had the winter plum tree
Before my latticed window blossomed yet?

Chinese

To A Friend

Wei City morning rain
dampens the light dust. 

By this inn, green,
newly green willows. 

I urge you to drink
another cup of wine; 

west of Yang Pass
are no old friends. 

tr. Mike O'Connor
Chinese

[23] Wei City Song



Leaning alone in the close bamboos, 
I am playing my lute and humming a song 
Too softly for anyone to hear -- 
Except my comrade, the bright moon.  
Chinese
In a Retreat Among Bamboos

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