Wujue (五绝) in English

Yu Fong-ying 余晃英 (WYK1961) recently started me to think about getting Chinese verse forms adapted for the English language as some worthy contribution to cross-cultural fertilization. Both the sonnet and the haiku have been successfully adapted into English from Italy and Japan, respectively.  Maybe some Chinese verse forms too can be similarly adapted.

I picked Li Bai’s best known 4-line poem 夜思 as a first attempt at this adaptation.  Over the Easter long weekend, with Fong-ying’s collaboration, we arrived at the version below to start the ball rolling for anyone who is interested in taking up this challenge.  It does not have to be a translation.  It can be a composition in the form of a 4-line pentasyllabic verse, 五绝 (wujue), preferrably in monosyllables and with the rhyme scheme of abcb, but any 4-line pentasyllabic verse will do.   A 4-line septasyllabic verse, 七绝 (qijue),  is fine too.  Also see Fong-ying’s wujue English composition “This Place I Roam” below.  –YK Chan (WYK1965)


夜思
李白                      Nocturnal Thoughts         Li Bai
(五绝)                         (Wujue : A four-line pentasyllabic verse)   Tr. by YK Chan & FY Yu
床前明月光,                     Bed side, Bright Moon shines;
疑是地上霜.                     Ground frost comes so fine?
举头望明月,                     Up at Moon I look;
低头思故乡.                     Down, for home I pine.

Wujue: This Place I Roam             五绝: 此地堪浪游
By YU Fong-ying                       余晃英作     陈耀国译

Red the maple leaves                  枫叶红北国
White hilltops like dome            穹顶白岭头|
Homeland now it is                     新乡兹落户
This new place I roam                 此地堪浪游

About YK 1965

Class of WYK1965 Microbiologist (Environmental Microbiology) Honorary Research Fellow Agriculture Canada, Ottawa
This entry was posted in Poems - All, Poems by - 李白 (710-762) and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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