‘Ascending the Phoenix Terrace in Jinling’ by Li Bai, ‘Yellow Crane Tower’ by Cui Hao The Society May 17, 2014 Beauty, Culture, For Educators, Poetry, Translation 2 Comments Updated January 10, 2020 Ascending the Phoenix Terrace in Jinling by Li Bai (701-762) Here phoenix roamed four hundred years ago, A sign of the enchantment that once thrived; How empty now, where no more feathers flow, A lonely river is all that’s survived. Lush garden of the grand Wu Palace grounds Is buried there beneath some nameless brush; Where is the Jin court’s grace? There’s just those mounds Of ancient ruins Time saw fit to crush. The Three Mountains disappear in sky, They rise, aloof, azure, whence egrets dive To a lone river island, safe and dry; Two Yangtze streams along it course and strive. My daydream drifts to Chang’an, so far from here: The Emperor whose fate is still unclear; I’ve heard dark clouds obscure his brilliant sky; I wish that to his aid a phoenix would fly. Original Chinese 登金陵鳳凰台 李白 鳳凰台上鳳凰遊，鳳去台空江自流。 吳宮花草埋幽徑，晉代衣冠成故丘。 三山半落青天外，一水中分白鷺洲。 總為浮雲能蔽日，長安不見使人愁。 An ancient painting of Chinese poet Li Bai. Yellow Crane Tower by Cui Hao (704-754) A Taoist immortal once left from this place, While riding the back of a bright yellow crane. As light as the air, his steps left not a trace; Just Yellow Crane Tower was left to remain. The yellow crane gone now has never returned; A thousand years flown by without any wings. How listlessly clouds for its company yearned— A gift that is hoped for, yet sky never brings. The sunshine illumines all the trees to the north And lights up the River Han’s crystalline face. From verdant grass, fragrance so sweetly pours forth As parrots on river-bound isles squeeze for space. Late shadows below stretch out long, scale the tower; I’ve no yellow crane I can mount at this hour; My home? which direction? O, I do not know, O, misty long river, I’ve so far to go! Original Chinese 黃鶴樓 崔顥 昔人已乘黃鶴去，此地空餘黃鶴樓。 黃鶴一去不復返，白雲千載空悠悠。 晴川歷歷漢陽樹，芳草萋萋鸚鵡洲。 日暮鄉關何處是，煙波江上使人愁。 “Yellow Crane Tower” by anonymous, circa Ming Dynasty. Translations by Evan Mantyk and Chunlin Li. Evan Mantyk is a poet and English teacher living in New York. Chunlin Li is a professor at Fei Tian College in New York. Views expressed by individual poets and writers on this website and by commenters do not represent the views of the entire Society. The comments section on regular posts is meant to be a place for civil and fruitful discussion. Pseudonyms are discouraged. The individual poet or writer featured in a post has the ability to remove any or all comments by emailing submissions@ classicalpoets.org with the details and under the subject title “Remove Comment.” Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 2 Responses Shari J LeKane-Yentumi May 17, 2014 Simply beautiful poetry, and beautifully translated, true to the original intent. Marvellous renditions! Reply Li "Web Crease" Du June 8, 2014 No Phoenix No phoenix frolicked on the Terrace at Jinling, when there Li Bai had been exiled from Chang’an. Now in the southern capital out east, Nanjing, where Sun’s bright rays, were raised to peace out west, Xi’an, Wu Palace is replaced by splendid, built-up sites, if not as gorgeous as the towers of Hong Kong, still beautiful to see, so scintillating, bright; although I’ve heard dark clouds obscure their brilliant skies. My mind drifts out to space. Once T’ang was bathed in light. Here wild geese above the climbing buildings fly, as yellow cranes are busy flapping metal wings. One thousand years the aimless clouds go by. Good bye. Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.