The boat carries the honored guest
so regally across the lake.
We look out over the railing and sip our wine.
Lotus blossoms, everywhere.
As is nearly always the case, I had more questions than answers when I first considered this adaptation, beginning with “what is happening here?” Yes, someone crosses a lake to meet a guest, they drink wine and see flowers in the water. But what does this signify? From my 21st century Texan viewpoint, the poem seems to be a piece about spiritual passage, and I colored my version with this in mind, using visual references to capitalize on and support the theme – crossing a body of water, looking outward, and of course, observing the lotus flowers, which hold great symbolism in Chinese and Buddhist culture.
The Chinese-poems.com transliteration:
Small barge go to meet honoured guest
Leisurely lake on come
At railing face cup alcohol
On all sides lotus bloom
This first appeared on the blog in November 2014. My, how time has passed.
As usual, your take more appealing to my associations
(though there is a place for literal translation, often awkward!)
Another welcome translation, adaptation.
Like you,I think the “what does the poem-speaker sense (what is happening?) question is primary.
Those last two lines make me wonder if Wang Wei is trying to setup a connection between the wine in the cup and the lotus blossoms in the water.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I of course don’t know if Wang Wei made that connection, but it’s there for me.