This is a very rough translation and annotation of the poem 酬虞部蘇員外過藍田別業不見留之作 (Chóu Yúbù Sū Tuánwài Guò Lántián Biéyè Bù Jiànliú Zhī Zuò), ‘Composed in Reply to Secretary Su of the Board of Concern, Who Passed By Lantian Residence But Did Not Stay’, by the Tang Dynasty Chinese poet 王維 (Wáng Wéi).
As always, if you have any suggestions or criticisms, please share them in the comments at the end of the page.
This is one of those poems with a monstrous title containing all sorts of elements. Here’s my attempt at breaking it down to make it a bit clearer:
- 酬 - reply
- 虞部 - Board of Concern (one of the six civil government boards of Tang China)
- 蘇 - Su (surname)
- 員外 - secretary
- 過 - pass by
- 藍田 - Lantian (a place)
- 別業 - “other residence” (i.e. a second home)
- 不見留 - not visit / not stay
- 之作 - ’s composition
Chóu Yúbù Sū Tuánwài Guò Lántián Biéyè Bù Jiànliú Zhī Zuò [reply] [board of concern] [Su] [secretary] [pass by] [Lan] [Tian] [other residence] [not] [see] [stay] ['s] [composition] Composed in Reply to Secretary Su of the Board of Concern, Who Passed By Lantian Residence But Did Not Stay
貧居依谷口， Pín jū yī gǔkǒu, [poor] [dwelling] [lean on] [valley] [mouth] A lowly dwelling is set in the opening of the valley;
喬木帶荒村。 qiáomù dài huāngcūn. [tall] [tree] [belt] [deserted] [village] tall trees skirt the deserted village.
石路枉回駕， Shí lù wǎng huí jià, [stone] [road] [in vain] [return] [ride] On a stone road, purposeless, one rides back;
山家誰候門。 shān jiā shéi hòu mén. [mountain] [home] [who] [wait] [gate] who waits at the gate of the mountain home?
漁舟膠凍浦， Yúzhōu jiāo dòng pǔ, [fishing] [boat] [stuck] [freeze] [shore] A fishing boat is stuck on the frozen shore;
獵火燒寒原。 liè huǒ shāo hán yuán. [hunt] [fire] [burn] [cold] [plain] the fire of a huntsman burns on the cold plain.
唯有白雲外， Wéi yǒu báiyún wài, [only] [have] [white] [cloud] [outside of] There are only, apart from white clouds,
疏鐘聞夜猿。 shū zhōng wén yè yuán. [sparse] [bell] [hear] [night] [ape] sparse bells, and my hearing of apes at night. (This is awkward in English but it seems to best fit the original.)
If you have any suggestions or criticisms, please share them in the comments below.