May Rain by Chen Zi Long (translation)

The Ming Dynasty poet Chen Zi Long (1608 – 1647) wrote this poem to the rhythm of the song Ye Yin Men.  The form demands two stanzas of 4 lines and a total of 45 characters.  Rhyming and with each character having a set tone.  My translation does not conform to the rules; I do not have the scholarship.  This is my take of the meaning in English:


May Rain by Chen Zi Long

Where orioles call

a day of drizzles sways by

Deserted as far as eyes can see

Shreds of red shimmers in the trees

Smoke from countless braziers vanishes

Only an unbearable chill remains

Yet flowers are appearing from the west

Calling on the sun to usher the mist away

(c) Mary Tang 鄧許文蘭 2017

謁金門  五月雨。陳子龍





About Mary Tang

An urban orchardist everyday, a volunteer regularly, a poet sometimes and a blogger since March 2015. I travel when I can. Food is a constant.
This entry was posted in Poetry, Poetry Translation and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to May Rain by Chen Zi Long (translation)

  1. angela1313 says:

    What a lovely choice. Those rules might work if you were translating to Japanese but English is way too cumbersome. Of course in Japanese there are not true tones but I think it would be easier to rhyme. I love your translations because I think they capture the spirit of nature so well. Rules were made to be broken, anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mary Tang says:

      Thanks, Angela. Yes, it may work better with another monosyllabic language. It is difficult enough to convey some sense of meaning but impossible to capture the intonation and rhythm too.


  2. zdunno03 says:

    Reblogged this on Leonard Durso and commented:
    another translation from the Chinese by Mary Tang on her blog Life is But This

    Liked by 1 person

  3. robert okaji says:

    Lovely! I couldn’t imagine attempting to conform to those rules. 😮

    Liked by 1 person

  4. arlingwoman says:

    I like the idea of flowers calling to the sun to usher the mist away. But I have a feeling the flowers and the direction mean something more than my garden poppies and larkspur. Unless weather comes from the west in certain parts of China. It certainly comes from the west here much of the time, unless it’s a hurricane and then it comes up from the south…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mary Tang says:

      The Chinese say ‘when you draw a figure you don’t have to draw the entrails’ so I guess my translations are just outlines and you the reader must do the colouring in. Getting to the heart of the matter is the fun part. :) Here I think the west refers to the afternoon; maybe, who knows? :)

      Liked by 1 person

      • arlingwoman says:

        Clearing after a day of rain, yes. Well, fortunately when I have questions, I can ask the translator. Sort of like going back to the notes in a translation or to the Greek in the Bible’s new testament.

        Liked by 1 person

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