Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Poems in Exile of Wu Suo-jen (无所人)

Wu Suo-jen (无所人) lived in the Tang period () and was a contemporary of Li Bo (李白) and Du Fu (杜甫). He was also sent into exile according to an imperial edict, from where he returned after eight years by pardon. His poem collection "Tear-Ink-Characters" was regarded as lost, but were rather confiscated by a censor. There were only a few poems passed on, mostly owned by friends. Here, eight poems are presented in modern translation, dealing with the exile and the way of the prisoners. The poems are written according to the seven-syllable rule. They follow exactly the ping and zhe tonem (/), but show impurities in rhyme.

Yellow Wine and General Yang
General Yang had even sent yellow wine
After our farewell on the three-world terrace
Now we quaffed to honor his memory
Careening on the way through the pines

A Repose with Tea
We wrote couplets on bamboo leaves
Yesterday while visiting the tavern
The daughters of the host looked out from behind the sleeves
With their laughter the wild geese flew up

At the Upper Reaches of the Yellow River
Our little boat carried only the guard
We trotted in chains over round stones
The evening bell of the village called for rest
In the fire sometimes a piece of bamboo startled

The Girl with the Red Cheeks
A beauty of the village hurried upon lotus-feet
The guardian ordered another dish
She nodded and her braids turned into phoenix wings
But I bent back over the Mandarin's letter

In Front of the Mountain Pass
I tightened the straw sandals
For fresh snow lay on the Bai-Xue Pass
Rocks had fallen violently into the ravine
And in between stood dwarfed trees and bushes

The Outpost
The desolation of the barbarian post spread out before us
A stone fourfold with guards and a market village
How I miss my life in the far Chang-an
The hustle and bustle in the streets and the garden of Hong-qi

Letters from Home
Tell me friend, how is it now in the homeland
Are the peaches in blossom, does the blackbird sing?
Are the beauties swaying in the willow lane?
Do you bring a long-awaited letter? Tell me

Day after Day
The high plain keeps silent in the gray morning fog
No friend of literature within 1000 Li
The next river is days’ journeys away
I sit on the tower with salty water

German Original:  


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