Thursday, January 29, 2015

"Thoughts on a Quiet Night"

Night Thoughts

This moon-shine past my bed—
Could it be frosted ground?
I lift my head and see it’s the dazzling moon.
I lower my head and think of home.

Jack Hayes 

Version of Li Bai’s “Jìng Yè Sī”
© 2015

Image links to it source on Wiki Commons
Liang Kai: “Li Bai In Stroll”; 13th century
Public domain


  1. Interesting! I didn't know you knew Chinese, John. What's the story on that?

  2. Roy: I work with "cribs" (literal, word for word translations) & a dictionary--same thing I did with the Du Fu poems this past autumn. It's intended more as an English-language poem based on Li Bai's, as opposed to a strict translation (as was also the case with the Du Fu poems). The original Chinese is quite complex, with an elaborate rhyme scheme. Also, while the title of the original never seems to be translated that way, it literally means "Nostalgia" or "Homesickness"

  3. I've tried making translations that way. I like this one.

    I wonder if the last two lines are the earliest written version of the idea of the sky being a refugee/exile's link to his or her homeland, as when you travel, although the landscape changes, the sky remains more or less the same?


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