Yu Xuanji: Thoughts on a Winter Night ~ 鱼玄机·《冬夜寄温飞卿》 with English Translations







Thoughts on a Winter Night

Yu Xuanji

With painful thoughts I reach for verse

to read aloud by the lamp;

I do not sleep the long night,

fearful of frigid bedding.

A sad wind rises in the leaves

filling the yard outside;

regrettably, the moon has set

beyond the window screen.

My hope for freedom has after all

never been quite fulfilled;

through ups and downs I see in vain

my true original will.

To live in hiding, do not choose

a place in easy reach;

evening sparrows twittering

circle the woods and screech.

(Bannie Chow, Thomas Cleary 译)

On a Winter’s Night, Sent to Feiqing

Yu Xuanji

With bitter longing I sought a poem, sang it beneath the lamplight,

Sleepless through the long night, fearing cold coverlets.

Tree leaves fill the courtyard I grieve at the rising wind,

Through sheer gauze window curtains, I pity the sinking moon.

Estranged, but not for long in the end I shall follow my will,

In flourishing and fading I emptily perceive the nature of my original mind.

I haven’t settled upon a spot on the wutong for my hidden resting place;

The evening sparrows twitter, vainly circling the forest.(1)

(1). Cf. the “Duan ge xing” of the warlord Cao Cao: “The moon is bright, the stars few, /Crows and magpies fly south./ Thrice circling the forest,/On what branch can they roost?”

(Jennifer Carpenter 译)

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