This is a translation and annotation of the poem 嫦娥 (Cháng’é, sometimes written as 常娥), by the Tang dynasty poet 李商隱 (Li Shangyin). The poem is #303 in the collection 300 Tang Poems, and is also known by its first line: 雲母屏風燭影深 (Yúnmǔ Píngfēng Zhú Yǐng Shēn).
Yúnmǔ píngfēng zhú yǐng shēn,
[mica] [screen] [candle] [shadow] [dark]
On a mica screen, a candle casts dark shapes;
chánghé jiàn luò xiǎo xīng chén.
[long] [river] [gradual] [descend] [morning] [star] [lower]
the Milky Way slowly descends, the Morning Star is low.
Cháng’é yīng huǐ tōu líng yào,
[Chang] [E] [probably] [regret] [stealing] [soul] [medicine]
Chang’e must regret stealing the elixir of life;
bìhǎi qīngtiān yè yè xīn.
[jade] [sea] [blue] [sky] [night] [night] [heart]
blue sea and blue sky, night after night in her heart.
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Mica is a mineral that forms thin, glittering flakes.
長河 is 银河 (the Milky Way), and 曉星 is 启明星 – Venus, or the Morning Star.
碧海青天 is an idiom, literally “jade sea blue sky”, that refers to colour of the sea and sky merging into one endless void. It describes extreme loneliness, particularly of a widow. Considering that, a more elaborate translation of the fourth line might be “night after night, she bitterly faces the endless blue seas and skies alone”.
- 300 Tang Poems (Waters, Farman, Lunde)
- Fifty Five T’ang Poems (Hugh M. Stimson)
- Poems of the Late T’ang (A. C. Graham)
- Translation of 嫦娥 into English at 英語大學
- Translation of 嫦娥 into English by 曾培慈
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