Australian poem 2008 series # 16: cheating slightly…

13 Jun

… because it is actually a classic Chinese poem! However, it has been translated by an Australian — by me in fact, with much help — and my view is that what you have here is an Australian poem that in some respects parallels a Chinese poem which can’t really be translated. As Robert Frost once said, poetry is what is lost in translation. Nonetheless as an Australian poem it is at least passable. I hope.

On West Lake

Bai Ju Yi (722-846)

On West Lake
north of the island temple
west of Lord Jia’s Pavilion
waves are stilled
by cloud feet of rain.

Early swallows
twitter and argue
in the welcoming trees,
building new houses
with beak-loads of warm Spring mud.

All around
scattered bright flowers
dazzling men’s eyes;
so soft the grasses
hoof-beats are muffled.

My Eden
here, east of this water.
Never too often to lie
under green willows
on this white strand.

Translated 1994 by N J Whitfield and M Q Xu



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Posted by on June 13, 2008 in Australia and Australian, Chinese and China, OzLit, peace, personal, poets and poetry



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