A Light Boat with Short Oars (visiting Ouyang Xiu)

A Light Boat with Short Oars

Traveling west on the lake, short oars serve me well,
as I follow the water along the green, curving shore.
The faint sound of pipe music follows me,
flowing through the fragrant grass of the dike.

The water sits like glass in the still air,
holding my gaze as boats pass me without notice.
I sit unaware of my boat’s movement as their ripples reach me,
until startled sandpipers fly past the brush on the bank.

Literal translations of classic Chinese poetry can be found at chinese-poems.com. This is my interpretation of a poem by Ouyang Xiu. The literal translation, as provided at chinese-poems.com, is as follows:

A Light Boat with Short Oars (Picking Mulberries)

Light boat short oar west lake good
Green water gently curving
Fragrant grass long dyke
Faint pipe song everywhere follow

Without wind water surface glaze smooth
Not notice boat move
Little move ripples
Startle rise sand bird brush bank fly

Image source: Wikimedia Commons
(Sandpipers, by Ohara Koson)
More Chinese interpretations can be found here.

14 thoughts on “A Light Boat with Short Oars (visiting Ouyang Xiu)

    • With a slight bit of editing, there’s the sandpiper’s response:

      A Response on Sandpiper Shores

      Traveling west on the lake, no oars for the swells,
      I follow the water along the green, curving shore.
      The faint sound of pipe music follows me,
      flowing through the fragrant grass of the dike.

      The water sits like glass in the still air,
      holding my gaze as boats pass by without notice.
      Unaware of their movement until their ripples reach me,
      startled, I fly past the brush on the bank.

      Like

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