Ouyang Xiu English Translations
Click on the title of each poem for the text in Chinese characters, pinyin and literal translation.
A Light Boat With Short Oars
A light boat with short oars- West Lake is good.
A gentle curve in the green water,
Fragrant grass along the dyke,
The faint sound of pipes and song follows me everywhere.
Without a wind, the water's surface lies as smooth as glaze.
I don't notice boats passing,
Tiny movements start up ripples,
Startled birds rise from the sand and graze the bank in flight.
Deep in Spring, the Rain's Passed
Deep in spring, the rain's passed- West Lake is good.
A hundred grasses vie in beauty,
Confusion of butterflies, clamour of bees,
The clear day hurries the blossom to burst forth in the warmth.
Oars in lilies, a painted barge moving without haste.
I think I see a band of sprites-
Light reflected in the ripples,
The high wind carries music over the broad water.
A Painted Boat Carrying Wine
A painted boat carrying wine- West Lake is good.
Urgent rhythms and pressing tunes,
A jade cup's imperious summons,
Gently floating on tranquil ripples, appointed Sleeping Drunk.
The moving clouds somehow are under the moving boat.
Empty water's clear and fresh,
Look up, look down, I linger on,
I feel as if here on this lake there is another heaven.
After the Fresh Blossoms Have Gone
After the fresh blossoms have gone- West Lake is good.
Tattered scraps of remnant red,
Mist of cotton catkins flying,
Weeping willow by the railing in the wind and sun.
Pipes and song scatter and cease, visitors depart.
I start to feel that spring is empty,
Let the curtain fall back down,
A pair of swallows going home through the drizzly rain.
Who Can Explain Why We Love It
Who can explain why we love it- West Lake is good.
The beautiful scene is without time,
Flying canopies chase each other,
Greedy to be among the flowers, drunk, with a jade cup.
Who can know I'm idle here, leaning on the rail.
Fragrant grass in slanting rays,
Fine mist on distant water,
One white egret flying from the Immortal Isle.
On the Pure Brightness Festival
On the Pure Brightness festival- West Lake is good.
Everywhere flowers abound,
Why does anyone need to speak?
Green willows and red wheels of decorated carriages passing.
As sun sets the visitors start to move off together.
Drunk or sober, making a noise,
The road bends, the dyke slants,
All the way to the city gate, everything is flowers.
After the Lotus Flowers Have Opened
After the lotus flowers have opened- West Lake is good.
Come for a while and bring some wine,
There's no need for flags and pennants,
Before and behind, red curtains and green canopies follow.
The painted boat is punted in to where the flowers are thick.
Fragrance floats round golden cups,
Mist and rain are so, so fine,
In a snatch of pipes and song I drunkenly return.
Heaven's Aspect, the Water's Colour
Heaven's aspect, the water's colour- West Lake is good.
Creatures in the clouds all fresh,
Gulls and egrets idly sleep,
I follow my habit as of old, listen to pipes and strings.
The wind is clear, the moon is white, the night is almost perfect.
One piece of beautiful land,
Who would crave a steed or phoenix?
One man on his boat is just like an immortal.
Scraps of Cloud in Rosy Dusk
Scraps of cloud in rosy dusk- West Lake is good.
Flowers on the bank, duckweed on sand,
A hundred acres of peaceful ripples,
On the overgrown bank, no man- just the stroke of a boat.
South-west, across the moon, scattered clouds are drifting.
Cool rises at the terrace rail,
Lotus flowers' scent is clear,
Wind from the water's face makes the wine face sober.
All My Life, I Have Loved It
All my life, I have loved it- West Lake is good.
A crowd around the red wheels,
Riches and honours are floating clouds,
Look down, look up, the years flow on, twenty springs have passed.
Now returned, I look like a crane from the distant east.
The people around the city walls,
All are new that meet the eye,
Who can remember their governor from those olden days?