Translation: Zhou Bangyan’s “New Jade Candle”

By the stream after the month of dried meat and fish,
She saw bunches of river plum, and immediately began to trim them.
Building a bouquet from fragrant silk blossoms—
x     Confused and delicate,
x      Divulging her desires.
Last night in front of the village, in the yellowing dusk,
x      She longed to play with the moon.
The lonely bank steep, striped with shadows,
x     Pungent, hidden fragrances moistened her lapel and sleeves.
She lays her findings before the wine vessel,
Asking the distant mountains,
If they’ve heard anything about his return.
x     The aged sun pretends to struggle.
In the end he does not appear,
x     The river is a mere sliver of light.
x     A tender wind is graced with rain.
She randomly sticks the branches into her hair,
    Her head becomes a profusion of blossoms.
She must have faith, suppressing her sadness,
She reads the petition to the Emperor
x     Over and over again.

Translated by AGG20151009

Depth Charge: Another poem universally attributed to Zhou Bangyan (Chou Pang-yen), yet included in the collection of Li Qingzhao poetry that I am using as a basis for this project. On first encounter, I despaired of making heads or tails out of this poem; however, in my unsuccessful search for an English translation, I came across James Hightower’s article, “The Songs of Chou Pang-yen,” and his that statement the the best of Zhou Bangyan’s poems have “a narrative line that serves as a tenuous thread on which nuances of feeling are developed.” This caused the poem to form in my head, although my choice of pronoun, and the interpretation of some obscure phrases, should be regarded as nothing more than personal whimsy.

玉烛新 周邦彦


Yù zhú xīn Zhōu Bāngyàn

xī yuán xīn là hòu.
Jiàn shù duǒ jiāng méi, jiǎncái chū jiù.
Yūn sū qì yù fāngyīng nèn, gù bǎ chūnxīn qīng lòu.
Qián cūn zuóyè, xiǎng nòng yuè, huánghūn shíhòu.
Gū àn qiào, shū yǐng héng xié, nóng xiāng àn zhān jīn xiù.
Zūn qián fù yǔ duō cái, wèn lǐng wài fēngguāng, gùrén zhī fǒu.
Shòu yáng mán dòu.
Zhōng bù shì, zhào shuǐ yīzhī qīngshòu.
Fēng jiāo yǔ xiù.
Hǎo luàn chā, fánhuā yíng shǒu.
Xū xìndào, xiāng guǎn wúqíng, kàn kàn yòu zòu.

Jade/candle/new Zhou Bangyan

Stream/source/new/12th Month/after.
See/many/bunches/river/plum, cut/trim/at first/right away.
Confused/silken/build by laying bricks/jade/fragrant/blossoms/delicate, therefore/hold/spring/feelings/gentle/divulge.
In front of/village/last night,want/to play with/moon, dusk/time.
Lonely/bank/high and steep, sparse/shadows/slanting/oblique, strong/pungent/hidden/moisten/lapel/sleeve.
Wine vessel/before/bestow/many/material, ask/mountain ridge/outside/landscape, old friend, know. not.
End/not/appear, illuminate/river/one/branch/clear/thin.
Well/well/confusion/insert, flourishing/blossoms/full/head.
Must/trust/way,alone/cope/without/feeling, examine/again/memorial to the Emperor.

Guo AndeTo 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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