Today, I want to share a little Chinese poetry. When I found out I would be teaching in China, I read as much Chinese literature as I could find. I explored the poetry of this country, in particular. Tu Fu was one of my favorites. He was alive from 712-770 during the Tang dynasty. There was rebellion in the land during most of his lifetime so many of his poems speak of his hatred for times of wars. Tu Fu was constantly on the move. This week, I shared one of the poems from his travels with my students. It is called “Leaving Chinchou”.
Although I will not include the Chinese version here (unless requested), we talked in my classes about how the poem loses much of its beauty in translation. The poem no longer rhymes or has the same amount of words in each line as the writer originally intended. Some lines are left out altogether. Tufu has lines about the stars not included by the translator. The biggest difference we found though is the last line of this poem. In English, when we read, “I must continue my past wanderings” we would think he is talking about his journey. In Chinese; however it has a deeper meaning. He is talking about the journey of life. Tufu is saying he has seen much in this journey of life, but he feels like he still has a long way to go. His journey is not over yet. He must press on!
To learn more about Tufu and read more of his work see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Du_Fu