My Far South Mountain Villa

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Small stream on the slope of Nan Wutaishan in the Zhongnanshan

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My Far South Mountain Villa
         Wang Wei 699-759

In middle age
        my life's not bad,
Late in life
        make South Mountain my home.
When the mood strikes
        I wander here alone,
In the void
        snubbing work
                knowing myself.
I hike to the stream
        rest there,
Hunker down
        watch the clouds
                drift by.
By chance 
        bump into a woodsman,
Chat and chuckle
        forgetting to go home.
Zhōngnán Biéyè
Wáng Wéi 699-759

Zhōng suì pōhǎo dào,
Wǎn jiā Nánshān shuì.
Xìng lái hǎi dú wǎng,
Shèng shì kōng zìzhī.

Xíng dào shuǐ qióng chù,
Zuò kàn yún qǐ shí.
Ǒurán zhí lín sǒu,
Tánxiào wú hái qī.
Translator: Dongbo 東波

Wang Wei lived in semi-retirement at his villa in the Far South Mountains.

If you wish to see how NOT to translate a poem, take a look at page 129 of Gems of Chinese Verse, translated into 'English' by W. J. B Fletcher, formerly British consul, Hoihow, first printed in 1918. But, he lived in his time, so don't take him to task. Although his verse is turgid, he clearly found beauty and common ground with Chinese poets while sipping a glass of whisky.

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