Saturday, November 15, 2014

Wang Wei: "Walking in Mountains in the Rain"

In this quick cloudburst
air thickens, the sky comes down

dark mountains
flashes of lightning

out at sea new clouds
have just started to form
and this small brook I straddle
is a river in flood somewhere

rags and blankets of mist
hang on these slopes and cliffs

then the clouds open and vanish
rain patters off
and moonlight silvers
that whole reach of river
foothills to ocean

and even from this black mountain
I can hear boatmen singing.

"Walking in Mountains in the Rain" by Wang Wei, from Five T'ang Poets. Translated from the original Chinese by David Young. © Oberlin College, 1990.

Many thanks to Albert Bellg for suggesting this poem, whose translator, he writes, was one of his English professors at Oberlin.

Art credit: "Silhouette against Yangshuo Moon in China," photograph by johey24. Caption: "A cormorant fisherman rows his little bamboo boat against the backdrop of a giant moon on the Li River, Yangshuo, China."

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