Monday, September 3, 2012

Love Poems by Lu You and Tang Yuan

This is a follow-up to the last post regarding the poignant love story of Song poet Lu You (陸游). I’ve given my attempted English rendition to Lu’s poem 釵頭鳳:紅酥手, which he wrote on a wall inside the Shen Garden during his chance encounter with his ex-wife Tang Yuan (唐婉), as well as to Tang’s reply poem 釵頭鳳:世情惡 .

At the Shen Garden (沈園) accidental encounter, Tang Yuan, with her husband’s permission, had some food and wine sent over to her ex-husband Lu You as a courtesy (presumably they were at different spots inside the big mansion). Her gesture got Lu all sentimental, and the lovelorn poet improvised his poem on a wall, which Tang later set her sight on, and she wrote her own reply there.

【釵頭鳳】紅酥手 南宋陸游

My English Rendition (Title: Phoenix Hairpin by Lu You):-

Tasty pork, golden wine, spring came amidst willows draped over walls.
Wicked custom, short-lived joy, leaves a pining heart, and lonely years befall.
Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

Spring comes and goes, as I waste away; my tears have soaked many a handkerchief.
Peach blossoms fall, by the lonely pond, our vows intact, yet we can’t connect.
Lost! Lost! Lost!  

【釵頭鳳】世情惡 南宋唐婉

My English Rendition (Title: Phoenix Hairpin by Tang Yuan):-

A pitiless world, hard-hearted people, the evening rain beats petals down.
Morning wind dries, not the tears, I want to write, but can only lean on the fence.
Tough! Tough! Tough!

We parted ways, yesteryears gone, the ghost of sickness haunts like a hanging rope.
The horn is chilling, the night is long, shunning questions, I dry my tears and feign joy.
Hide! Hide! Hide!

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