Looking at the Moon and Thinking of One Far Away
Over the sea the moon
brightens heaven, brings
to separated hearts
thoughts in the night.
It is no darker
though I blow out my candle.
It is no warmer
though I put on my coat.
So I leave my message
with the moon,
and I go to my bed
hoping for dreams.
-- 張 九 齡 Zhang Jiuling
Translator's note: I hope your computer is able to read and transmit the
Chinese characters of the original poem, if for no other reason than
that they are so concise and elegant! A difficulty arises in all
translations from the Chinese (or Japanese) in that the brevity and
directness of the style causes all kinds of technical problems in
attempts to reproduce the content in English while adhering to the
driving spirit of the poem. The mental worlds surrounding our varied
languages and ways of thinking are different, of course, and never more
so than when dealing with faraway cultures. Although this poem was
composed more than a thousand years ago it is as fresh as the day it was
written! You will notice there are three 4-line stanzas in the
translation whereas the original is composed of 4 separate stanzas made
up by each horizontal line divided into two sections of five Chinese
characters apiece. The first stanza of the translation actually combines
the first two stanzas of the original, i.e the first half of the poem.
This was done on purpose by me in order to maintain the velocity as well
as the content of the poem ... and if you can understand that, welcome
to the world of translation!