Thursday, 2 September 2010

佳人 (Beautiful Woman) by Du Fu

Posted together with some other much better translations of various poems at Perpwalk

Who is more fair than she? She lives alone,
an empty valley home.
She was from a good family, but they’re gone
since discord came to Kuan;
her brothers killed; their high estate now dearth.
It is a callous world
that scorns distress! Hope gutters like a candle -
her husband’s eyes have kindled
on fresh-bought jade; as morning glory curls
he sees new smiles, while old love cries unheard.

The spring was pure in its mountain pools
but darkened in descent.
She waits – her maid may come from selling jewels
with straw again for the roof
She picks some flowers, no more for her hair
The pine tree’s needles fall
from her numb fingers. She forgets the cold -
wearing a thin silk shawl
she leans at sunset by a tall bamboo

© Simon M Hunter 2010