Response to “What of the Night?” from The Book of Odes

What about the night?
You know—the unknowable
That encompasses
This fourteen billion year old
Droplet of expanding light

AGG20140419

Depth Charge: The Book of Odes, also called The Classic of Poetry, the oldest book of Chinese poetry, is a collection of 305 folksongs that dates back to the Zhou Dynasty, 11th to 7th Century BC. The line “夜如何其/What about the Night?” is referenced in Li Qingzhao’s poem “A Southern Song.” I have written a response to that poem as well. 

In episode six of Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey, Neil de Grasse Tyson, spoke about the seeable universe—the wall of light that is also the curtain of time—that we see in every direction when we look with microwave telescopes back 14 billion years.

庭燎:

夜如何其、夜未央、庭燎之光。
君子至止、鸞聲將將。

夜如何其、夜未艾、庭燎晣晣。
君子至止、鸞聲噦噦。

夜如何其、夜鄉晨、庭燎有輝。
君子至止、言觀其旂。

Tíng liáo:

Yè rúhé qí, yè wèiyāng, tíng liáo zhī guāng.
Jūnzǐ zhì zhǐ, luán shēng jiāng jiāng.

Yè rúhé qí, yè wèi ài, tíng liáo zhé zhé.
Jūnzǐ zhì zhǐ, luán shēng huì huì.

Yè rúhé qí, yè xiāng chen, tíng liáo yǒu huī.
Jūnzǐ zhì zhǐ, yán guān qí qí.

What of the Night?

What of the night?
The night is not yet spent.
The torches in the courtyard are alight.
But my lord has come;
Tinkle, tinkle go his harness bells.

What of the night?
The night is not yet old.
The torches in the courtyard are bright.
But my lord has come.
Twit, twit go the bells.

What of the night?
The night nears dawn.
The torches in the courtyard gleam.
My lord has come;
I can see his banners.

Translated by Arthur Waley.

To see  as different translation by James Legge, click here.

 

To read Songs about Sex, Death & Cicadas by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

To read  as close as the clouds by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the linke and select “Save link as…”

To read the chapbook Happy Birthday Hanafuda by Andrew Grimes Griffin just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

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One thought on “Response to “What of the Night?” from The Book of Odes

  1. Pingback: Response to Li Qingzhao’s “A Southern Song” | tankawanka

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