On Mount Royal, Early Autumn
(after Autumn Twilight, Dwelling in the Mountains by Wang Wei)
The path is busy after work,
Late summer blending into autumn.
Sunlight shines through maple trees,
Lights up glimpses of the Saint Lawrence.
Young joggers laugh and talk,
Gravel crunching underfoot.
We come and go like the falling leaves,
The homeless build shelters for the night.
Depth Charge: This poem is a response poem to Wang Wei’s poem “Autumn Twilight, Dwelling Among Mountains” and, in particular, David Hinton’s overwrought translation, which goes to extreme lengths to jam in Chan Buddhist references and esoteric language that are either not there or best left implicit. Below is the original Chinese, Hinton’s translation and my translation.
Autumn Twilight, Dwelling Among Mountains
by Wang Wei, translated by David Hinton
In empty mountains after the new rains,
it’s late. Sky-ch’i has brought autumn –
bright moon incandescent in the pines,
crystalline stream slipping across rocks.
Bamboo rustles: homeward washerwomen.
Lotuses waver: a boat gone downstream.
Spring blossoms wither away by design,
but a distant recluse can stay on and on.
Autumn Twilight Among the Mountains
by Wang Wei, translated by Andrew Grimes Griffin
The mountains are empty after new rain,
Autumn weather is late arriving.
The bright moon shines through the pines,
Clear water flows over stones.
Bamboo rustles as the washer women go home,
Lotus blossoms are pushed under a fisherman`s boat.
Spring fragrance comes and goes on its own,
The monkeys are free to remain.
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