Li Bai and Du Fu

BBC is running a series on the people from China and came across this article on the poets.

Du Fu seems to be a quintessential poet who couldn't bow to the emperor, couldn't earn money and when his roof was blown away, he was dreaming of a mansion with hundreds of rooms. His story was interesting and so searched and was reading a few of his English translated poems.

Li Bai is a contemporary and a drunkard and a poet. It is interesting to read of his life and more interesting to read his poems. They are modern, on subjects that we know of and have an yearning which is quite disturbing to read. Li Bai dies as he lived, drowning in a river trying to embrace the moon.

One word on the translations. Some are good and some, it is clear that the translation is awful as the words are jutting out. But there are a few that just get the words right and makes you wonder how good it would've been to read it in original.

Du Fu
Here are a couple.

ON A MOONLIGHT NIGHT
Far off in Fuzhou she is watching the moonlight,
Watching it alone from the window of her chamber-
For our boy and girl, poor little babes,
Are too young to know where the Capital is.
Her cloudy hair is sweet with mist,
Her jade-white shoulder is cold in the moon.
...When shall we lie again, with no more tears,
Watching this bright light on our screen?
- Du Fu


Li Bai

IN THE QUIET NIGHT
So bright a gleam on the foot of my bed 
Could there have been a frost already?
Lifting myself to look, I found that it was moonlight.  
Sinking back again, I thought suddenly of home. 
- Li Bai


 Translations from - http://etext.virginia.edu/chinese/frame.htm


The BBC podcast is here - http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/china
Article - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-19884020

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