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Classical Chinese

李商隱 無題 · 來是空言去絕踪 translation: Untitled (Promises to Come Were Empty Words; Gone Without Trace), by Li Shangyin

This is a very rough translation and annotation of the poem 來是空言去絕踪 (Lái Shì Kōngyán Qù Jué Zōng), ‘Promises to Come Were Empty Words; Gone Without Trace’, by the Tang Dynasty Chinese poet 李商隱 (Lǐ Shāngyǐn). Note that the poem is actually untitled (無題) but is commonly referred to by its first line, given here as the title.

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來是空言去絕踪

Lái Shì Kōngyán Qù Jué Zōng [come] [is] [empty] [words] [go] [cut off] [tracks] Promises to Come Were Empty Words; Gone Without Trace

來是空言去絕踪, Lái shì kōngyán qù jué zōng, [come] [is] [empty] [words] [go] [cut off] [tracks] Your promises to come were empty words; you leave without trace;

月斜樓上五更鐘。 yuè xié lóu shàng wǔ gēng zhōng. [moon] [slant] [tower] [on] [five] [hour] [bell] the moon slants on the tower at the fifth watch bell.

夢為遠別啼難喚, Mèng wèi yuǎn bié tí nán huàn, [dream] [be] [far] [parting] [cry] [difficult] [call] In a dream, far apart, we cry but it's hard to call to one another;

書被催成墨未濃。 shū bèi cuī chéng mò wèi nóng. [write] [cover] [urge] [complete] [ink] [not yet] [thick] one writes urgently, with ink not yet thickened.

蠟照半籠金翡翠, Là zhào bàn lóng jīn fěicuì, [candle] [illuminate] [half] [cover] [gold] [green jade] [bluish jade] A candle illuminates half of the golden and jade-green bedding;

麝熏微度繡芙蓉。 shè xūn wēi dù xiù fúróng. [musk] [perfume] [tiny] [degree] [embroidery] [lotus][] musk perfume in tiny amounts, on the embroidered lotus.

劉郎已恨蓬山遠, Liú láng yǐ hèn Péng Shān yuǎn, [Liu] [youth] [already] [regret] [Peng] [mountain] [far] Master Liu now rues how distant Mt. Peng is;

更隔蓬山一萬重! gèng gé Péng Shān yī wàn zhòng! [further] [separate] [Peng] [mountain] [one] [ten thousand] [li] yet we are separated ten thousand _li_ further than Mt. Peng!

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