Translated by Jarek Zawadzki

Upon the New Year’s Day no fragrant flowers came out,
Not till the second month did buds begin to sprout.
The snow humiliates the spring for being late,
And sprays white petals in the garden all about.


Original Chinese



Jarek Zawadzki was born in 1977. He lives in Gliwice, Poland. In 2002, he graduated from the University of Warsaw with an MA degree in Chinese Studies, and in 2017 he was awarded an MA degree in English Studies by the Jagiellonian University in Krakow. He works as an Asian Market Manager for a woodworking factory. He is also a freelance translator in a combination of the three languages: Polish, English and Chinese.

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3 Responses

  1. James Sale

    I am not an expert on Chinese poetry or Chinese culture generally, and certainly can make no observation on the accuracy of this translation. But as a work in English I like it very much. It has what we perhaps associate with the Chinese culture, a certain delicacy of feeling. For me the standout word that makes this powerful is the personification of snow in ‘humiliates’. That is a wonderful and unexpected word and captures so much. Well done.

  2. Wu "Sacred Bee" Li

    1. Mr. Zawadzky’s putting forth his poetic translation of Tang poet and prosist Han Yu is a service to English literature for several reasons, not least of all that he is a native Polish speaker.

    2. As Mr. Sale has pointed out, the four lines of Han Yu, translated by Mr. Zawadzky into four iambic hexametres with a rhyme scheme aaba, capture a certain “delicacy of feeling”.

    3. Han Yu in his day supported the Classical Prose Movement, harkening back to the unadorned prose of the Han dynasty. He was an advocate of guwen over the more ornamental pianwen.

    4. Of him, Su Shi (1037-1101) wrote: “His prose reversed the literary decline of eight dynasties”.

    5. In the violence of his passion for Confucianism he wrote such works, as his scathing “Memorial on the Finger Bone of Buddha”, for which he was exiled for a while, as well as works, like “On Teaching”. Han Yu argued fiercely against both Daoism and Buddhism.

    6. I likewise found Mr. Zawadzky’s essay comparing and contrasting Modernist Robinson Jeffers’ (1887-1962) inhumanism to ancient Chinese Lao Tzü’s unconcern of some interest.

    7. This week I read Bertrand Russell’s short essay on the extraordinary Polish-English short story writer and novelist Joseph Conrad (1857-1924). There are so many interesting comments in it, but one came to the fore after reading Mr. Zawadzky: Conrad’s “views on the future of China ‘strike a chill into one’s soul'”.

    8. This week I was also concerned with another Tang writer. I took a poem of his and slipped pieces of it into a tennos. I would not say “My Ship” is a translation of a poem by Li Bai (602-762), but I did try to capture some of the poem’s essence.

    My Ship

    My ship is built of spice-wood with a rudder of mulan.
    Musicians play their bamboo flutes and pipes of golden-tan.
    Such pleasure of sweet wine and singing girls on the waves;
    I’m happier than airy fairies on the yellow crane.
    With strokes of my inspired pen, I see Five Mountains rise.
    I laugh, and my delight is vaster than the sea and sky.
    Enduring poetry, Chu Yuan, loyal minister,
    though palaces of the Chu kings have vanished in time’s stir,
    your words have lasted centuries, as has the River Han.
    The Yangtse tributary still goes on and on and on.

    10. Chu Yuan lived from 435-482. The Han River through Chaozhou was named after Han Yu.


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