Shui diao ge tou (Prelude to Water Music)–Su Shi
Translated by YK Chan 10 September 2008
When will there be a bright shining moon?
With a wine glass in hand I ask heaven.
In the palace high up and above,
I know not which year it is tonight.
I wish to ride the wind to return there,
but fear in such fine jade buildings
I can’t stand the chilly altitude.
Dancing along with my vivid shadow,
it’s nothing like home on earth.
Moonlight wraparound on the crimson pavilion,
lowly it shines at the ornate windows and
glares on the sleepless. Ought not to bear grudges,
for what a full moon shines always at parting?
Men grieve or rejoice, separate or reunite;
the moon dims or shines, waxes or wanes.
Such affairs hardly fulfil since the dawn of time.
Nevertheless, well wishes to us forever,
sharing the same elegant moonlight from afar!
Tune of “Prelude to Water melody” 江紹倫譯
Whence will the moon shine this way again
I ask in earnest a wine-cup in hand
Where-in the palaces high up in sky
What year could it be tonight
I’d love to return there riding the wind
But I fear where these towers and jade palaces are in
The chill and altitude are too much for my liking
Dancing with my shadow in tow
I feel ’tis a better place here with people I know
In the ornate mansion red
Behind lowered drapes embroidery spread
Such glare kept me sleepless in bed
I should have no lingering spite or hate
O Moon why do you always shine when people separate
Among men sorrow joy separation or togetherness are but normal life state
For you Moon there are times of shade or shine fullness and wane
None had always been perfect since time immemorial
Let’s keep our love true everlasting
And share the moon bright and trusting
Remembrance in Mid-Autumn – to the tune of “Barcarole Prelude”
translated by Father John Turner
“When did this glorious moon begin to be?’
Cup in hand, I asked of the azure sky:
And wondered in the palaces of the air
What calendar this night do they go by.
Yes, I would wish to mount the winds and wander there
At home; but dread those onyx towers and halls of jade
Set so immeasurably cold and high.
To tread a measure, to support with fleshless shade,
How alien to our frail mortality!
Her light round scarlet pavilion, ‘neath broidered screen, down streams
On me that sleepless lie.
Ah, vain indeed is my complaining:
But why must she beam at the full on those that sundered sigh?
As men have their weal and woe, their parting and meeting, it seems
The moon has her dark and light, her phases of fulness and waning.
Never is seen perfection things that die.
Yet would I crave one solitary boon:
Long be we linked with light of the fair moon
Over large leagues of distance, thou and I.