A Lotus Grows in Brooklyn


One poem, three ways
July 22, 2009, 12:47 pm
Filed under: Poetry | Tags: , , , ,

I found these three different translations of one poem by a brilliant Taoist poet of eighth century China. The authors of these translations are themselves three of my favorite poets of contemporary times. Wonderful!

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Night on the Great River
by Meng Hao-jan (689–740)

(I)

Steering my little boat towards a misty islet,
I watch the sun descend while my sorrows grow:
In the vast night the sky hangs lower than the treetops,
But in the blue lake the moon is coming close.

 —translated by William Carlos Williams

 (II)

We anchor the boat alongside a hazy island.
As the sun sets I am overwhelmed with nostalgia.
The plain stretches away without limit.
The sky is just above the tree tops.
The river flows quietly by.
The moon comes down amongst men.

 —translated by Kenneth Rexroth

(III)

The boat rocks at anchor by the misty island
Sunset, my loneliness comes again.
In these vast wilds the sky arches down to the trees.
In the clear river water, the moon draws near.

 —translated by Gary Snyder

 

Print of Kiso River by Hiroshi Yoshida.

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