Monday, May 9, 2016

storied apricot pavilion

storied apricot pavilion 
storied apricot was cut to fashion the beams,
fragrant reeds knotted to fashion a cosmos—
are these rafters or the linings of the clouds?
a place apart for writing between the rains

Jack Hayes
© 2016
based on Wang Wei:
wén xìng guăn

endlessly storied apricot pavilion
often rises to the height of the sun—
south mountain replenishes the lake; 
before looking ahead, repeatedly turn to consider

Sheila Graham-Smith
© 2016
based on Pei Di:
wén xìng guăn

Note: Wang Wei collaborated with his friend Pei Di on a collection of 20 paired poems known in English as the Wang River Collection, or the Wheel River Collection or Wheel Rim River Collection (Wangchuan ji; 辋川集). Each poem is a quatrain (a jueju; 絕句) describing a setting on Wang Wei’s country estate in the foothills of the Qinling Mountains, south of Chang’an in what is today Lantian County.

The poems describe various locations around the estate; pavilions, fenced in enclosures, terraces, & the like. It is important to note that the poets elaborated on the details of the actual locations.

Wang’s poems are very well known—he is one of the most famous of the great Tang Dynasty poets. Pei Di’s poetry on the other hand, including his contributions to this collaborative work, is considerably less well known outside of China. To date only one English translation of the entire Wheel River Collection has been done. This was by Jerome Ch’en & Michael Bullock in their collection Poems of Solitude, published in 1960 & now out of print.

Sheila Graham-Smith & I have produced translations of one pair of poems from the sequence, & we hope to do more in between the Du Fu & Li Bai! You can read my versions of two other poems in the sequence here & here.


Image links to its source on Wiki Commons
"Poetic Feeling in a Thatched Pavilion": Wu Zhen, 1347, ink on paper, handscroll.
Public domain. 

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