Read Poetry Through Translation
I put this together mainly for my own enjoyment. Of course, it is also my goal to make a small difference in our attempt to study or appreciate classical Chinese poetry and prose. I assume that my readers are primarily those who learn Chinese as a second language, or those whose mother tongue is not Chinese.
Let me be frank, I am neither a scholar of Chinese poetry nor a translator by profession. When it comes to shi and ci poetry, I am but a self-taught learner and late starter. I did not start writing my first “real” poem until four years into retirement. However, I do have a passion for making the study of classical Chinese poetry (and the Chinese language too) easier and less complicated for bilingual students.
I enjoy the bilingual approach to interpreting and translating classical Chinese poetry. The bilingual approach is actually the tool I used to learn the craft of writing shi and ci poems.
I am the first to admit that my translations are far from being perfect. They are certainly not free from misinterpretations, omissions, errors, and personal biases. I encourage you to review them critically. Further, my translations are intended as "reading aids" only. In other words, each of my translations serves only one purpose: To facilitate reading and understanding the original poem, lyric, or essay.
--- E. C. Chang
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
誰家林木我應知。路過其村入夜時。他不知余臨此地，適逢飛雪蓋寒枝。 馬兒怎會無疑竇！不見農家必覺奇。此晚今年應最黑，卻停林裡近冰池。 搖鈴一下牠提問，在此停留實可疑。唯有風聲無別響，雪花飛舞落如斯！ 黑夜深沉林木美，諾言應守怎能遲！ 路程尚遠睡無期！路程尚遠睡無期！
Shall I compare thee to a summers day? (Sonnet 18)
William Shakespeare, 1564 - 1616
Shall I compare thee to a summers day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimmed;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
Nor shall death brag thou wand’rest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to Time thou grow’st.
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
(translated by E. C. Chang