2 0 1 3 年 1 月 1 7 日

李白 山中問答 translation: Questions and Answers in the Mountains, by Li Bai


This is a translation and annotation of the poem 山中問答 (Shānzhōng Wèndá) by the Chinese Tang dynasty poet 李白 (Lǐ Bái).

As always, this is only my beginner’s attempt at an annotation. If you could improve it or have any suggestions, please share your thoughts in the comments at the end of the page.

Floating Blossoms

 

山中問答
Shānzhōng Wèndá
[mountain] [in] [question] [answer]
Questions and Answers in the Mountains

 

問余何意棲碧山,
Wèn yú hé yì qī bì shān,
[ask] [me] [what] [meaning] [live] [blue jade] [mountain]
You ask me why I live in the blue-green mountains;

笑而不答心自閒。
Xiào ér bù dá xīn zì xián.
[smile] [and] [not] [answer] [heart] [self] [leisure]
I smile and do not answer, my heart at leisure.

桃花流水窅然去,
Táohuā liúshuǐ yǎo rán qù,
[peach] [blossom] [flow] [water] [remote] [-ly] [go]
Peach blossom on flowing water goes distantly;

別有天地非人間。
Biéyǒu tiāndì fēi rénjiān.
[separate] [have] [heaven] [earth] [not] [person] [space]
this is not heaven or earth, nor the place of people.

 

Please share your suggestions in the comments at the end of the page.

Further reading


  • Cindy

    A beautiful poet. And the translation is also a beautiful poet. But Libai lived in Chinese Tang dynasty, but not Song dynasty. For the last sentences 別有天地非人间, accoding to the whold poetry, I think it means that in the mountain it’s a totally new world but not the place of people. So “this is not heaven or earth’ is just the direct meaning for the characters ” 别有天地“. Additionally, 天地 in Chinese means the whole world, from the earth to the heaven.

    • http://eastasiastudent.net/about Hugh Grigg (葛修远)

      Thanks for pointing out the dynasty mistake, I use a lot of templates to speed these up so that got copied across and wasn’t changed.

      I’d quite like to keep the literal translation, as that’s what the annotations here are for. There are other more interpreted translations elsewhere, but the content here is supposed to make notes for people seeing the poem for the first time.

  • Pingback: Cambridge Chinese Fourth Year Song and Tang Poetry List · EAS