ACCIDENTAL SIGHT (by Xu Zhenqing)

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作者:徐祯卿 (by Xu Zhenqing, 15th or 16th century)

深山曲路见桃花,Deep mountain twist road see peach blossom
马上匆匆日欲斜。horse up hurry, hurry, sun will slanting
可奈玉鞭留不住,however helpless jade whip stay not stop
又衔春恨到天涯 again carry spring sadness arrive sky edge

Translation:

Deep in the mountain, the road bends — I see peach blossoms.
But the sun will soon set; I hurry my horse onward
Oh, I would stop time if I could, with my jade-handled whip.
Once again I carry the sadness of spring, all the way to the edge of the sky.

Translation Notes:

The poet Xu Zhenqing is famous writer in the Ming Dynasty and one of the four great talents in the South of the Ming Dynasty during that time. He is also renowned for his achievements in calligraphy. The first two lines are translated in a deliberately choppy manner to reflect the suddenness of the peach blossoms, the poet’s hesitation, and then his onward rush. The words in the second line, “sun will slanting,” tell us that the sun is going down and that it’s near enough to the horizon to send slanting rays. The poem is not specific as to what the poet wishes to stop, but in the context of the setting sun and the sadness of spring, we thought that “time” best expressed his intent.

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