Spring Dawn (after Meng Haoran)

This morning I slept through dawn
and the screeching birds, long
after last night’s wild wind and rain.
But who can count the fallen flowers?


The transliteration on Chinese-poems.com reads:

Spring sleep not wake dawn
Everywhere hear cry bird
Night come wind rain sound
Flower fall know how many



64 thoughts on “Spring Dawn (after Meng Haoran)

  1. Sleep in spring, unaware of dawning notes of birds are heard around It springs to mind a storm raged overnight I wonder how many blossoms alight 春眠不覺曉 處處聞啼鳥 夜來風雨聲 花落知多少

    Five character quatrains. Not correcting you. Just looking at it a different way. It is bittersweet, about the spring.

    Liked by 2 people

    • xiaofou46,reading the transliteration, I wondered about the sequence of events. Perhaps you (or your wife) could say something about this. Your rendition retains Robert’s sequence in that the birds, the storm, an the blossoms falling all occurred before the poet wakes. The “unaware” in your version captures this.

      Is it a possible reading that each line occurs in sequence? The poet sleeps, wakes up, hears the birds, then night comes, and a storm that the poet imagines cause unknown number of blossoms to fall?

      Not knowing any Chinese, I’m interested in learning how to make the best of the transliterations. Thanks

      Liked by 2 people

      • @ atomicgeography
        I will attempt to get into Her mind a bit for you. But I don’t want to Hijack Robert’s thread. I will post on my own and let you know. @ Robert May I reblog your entry on my own page?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you Robert. I will do it here then.

        Huai Wen (Novia)
        The poet woke after a deep sleep, slept through sunrise in the spring time. Woke to the sound of birds singing on a calm morning.
        Then looking around the author noticed that there had been a storm overnight that he had slept through. Pondered in a wistful way, I wonder how many blossoms (cherry?) were cast from their branches.

        There is beauty in fruit blossoms scattering the ground, an ethereal effect, but also there is a sadness knowing that these will wither and fade. Still the cycle of life continues and rebirth will occur. There is life and loss in every new season.
        Mandarin is subjective and so is poetry that is why so many interpretations can be found of one thing. Seasons and Poetry are highly emotional parts of the human psyche. I reckon that this is a perfect example of how a few verses can really get deep into so many people’s hearts and be seen in so many different ways.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Both hopeful and hopeless in the enigmatic way of the best poems of the T’ang dynasty. Somewhere between hopefulness and hopelessness, that’s where all things happen anyway, in the actual moment. Meng’s poems find a way of making that moment solid. To me this poem is as much about the bliss of things passing as a thing in and of itself–it’s too late to count the petals, but earlier it would have been too early and the idea would not have occurred. Meanwhile, other things are taking flight with their own volition. It’s a great poem, it posits the proper place of fruitful idleness, and the more you sit with it the more it resonates. Nice work on your “after Meng” version, Robert. It has me thinking all sorts of things, which is what a great poem does.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Once again, you take words and make music! Maybe there are technical aspects I am not aware of…doesn’t matter! Interpretation should be subjective anyway and may change across language and cultures. Your words sing, producing music in any language. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Robert, I adore the assonance there, of “long” and “dawn.” I’ve been reading Hopkins lately, and dawn is a particularly charged word for him as well. You’ve done a great rendition (and made obvious improvement) of the transliteration; I also especially like how the poem can be read literally or metaphorically, with neither correct and neither incorrect. It would be interesting to know if Meng’s poem was written for a particular occasion; I feel it’s reactionary to an event [political, perhaps?] and the fallen flowers represent people (their relationship to Ming or to his narrator, I’m not sure). Either way, very provocative and beautiful as always!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Your adaptation is wonderful. You certainly DID do it justice, and I’m very glad you also included the original transliteration, because even in the broken English, it contains some very stirring sentiments. Thank-you.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I really like your work. It has so many facets like a crystal reflecting the light. Your following and liking my work brought me here …. To more meaning and more beauty ending up in feelings of gratitude. Thank you so much, Robert.

    Liked by 1 person

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