Remembering An Old Troubador


 
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Old troubador floating on lake Dongting

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戴表元







Remembering An Old Troubador
        Dai Biaoyuan 1244-1310     

In better days he sang of peonies, purple and red,
Holding vermillion tasseled sandlewood clappers.
Now, white haired, he sings in Jiangnan for a cup of wine,
No one would know he is another Li Gunian!

Or,

Then;
Purple and red peonies
      in bright sunlight,
Sandalwood castanets
      vermillion tasseled
            a silver score.
Now;
Gray haired
      in Jiangnan
            singing for a jug of wine,
No one to realize
      he's another Li Guinian!
 
Gǎnjiù Gēzhě
Mǔdan hóng zǐ yàn yáng tiān,
Tánbǎn zhū sī jǐn sè jiān.
Tóu bái Jiāngnán yī zūn jiǔ,
Wúrēn zhī shì Lǐ Guīnián.*
 
Translator: Dongbo 東波

Notes:
See Du Fu's quatrain 'Bumping Into Li GuinianIn Jiangnan'.

Li Gunian was a famous singer in the court of the Tang emperor Xuan Zong. During the An Lushan rebellion of 756 he fled to Chengdu with the emperor. Years later in 770 the poet Du Fu found him in more humble circumstances on the shore of the Dongting Lake in Jiangnan, the area south of the Changjiang.

 
 
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