Two Poems About the Moon, one mentioning the moon six times and the other not mentioning the moon at all [new translations]

Jeff Schwaner’s translation of the same Li Po poem, with a bonus piece by Li Ho. If you haven’t already been there, please visit Jeff’s blog. Some stunning poetry awaits you.

Translations from the English

Two poems about the moon, one mentioning the moon six times and one not mentioning the moon at all

Sky Dream

Li Ho (790-816)

In the sky, that cold toad’s eye weeps.
Between towers of cloud its clarity slants, unstuck,

a jade wheel rolling anew in each drop of dew, glinting
off imaginary immortals on the fragrant path as they meet

and watch dust and ocean trade places beneath the Three Mountains
and even as they blink a thousand years run by like horses. Meanwhile,

way up there, to the toad the great nations are nine wisps
of angry mist and the wide ocean of sorrows a small spilled cup.

Still Night, Thoughts

Li Po (701-762)

Moon’s so bright before my bed
I mistook it for frost glowing on the floor.

I lift my head, and old hopes, to that moon,
then back down, eyes full of a dream of…

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9 thoughts on “Two Poems About the Moon, one mentioning the moon six times and the other not mentioning the moon at all [new translations]

  1. I am fascinated by others’ interpretation of the mood conveyed in a piece and
    you are satisfying my fascination with your work! Very well done!

    Like

    • It is indeed fascinating! I’m struck by how a single word, or even a punctuation mark, can change the entire tone of a piece. It certainly reinforces my perception of the beauty and power of language!

      Like

    • Cedar Grove, Late Night, and Night Journey are my versions. The Wang Wei had been lying fallow in a drawer for two decades. I pulled it out a few weeks ago, and discovered immediately what needed to be done to complete it. Amazing how that works. Ha!

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  2. Dear Mr Okaji, thank you for opening that drawer! I have many I imaginations about how animals and birds perceive their worlds. Now i’m delighted to know about the possibility of a toad’s! in Skydream by LiHo, two lines particularly touch my heart: 1,000 years run by like horses, and, wide ocean of sorrows a small spilled cup. Also, your reading about ‘zero’ in CladeSong, is very interesting. When you mentioned elsewhere about the number 9, of course, the Beatles song ending “number 9, number 9, number 9” comes to mind. Thank you for sharing. I learn a lot from you. Sincerely, Karen (myohopoet)

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    • Karen, please call me Bob. You should read some of Jeff’s other work. I’m envious of his talents!

      Like so many things, numbers are everywhere, but we seldom look closely at them. I find even the most ubiquitous and ordinary entities endlessly fascinating.

      Like

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