Viridity – Bai Juyi

“A Vision” – @anjkan
Viridity –
The property of being green;
Resembling the color of growing grass
(Translates literally as)
Part part plain on grass
One year one wither flourish
Prairie fire burn not destroy
Spring wind blow again life
Distant fragrance invade old path
Clear emerald meet ruined town
Again see off noble friend go
Crowded full parting feeling
—————————
Viridity
The prairie’s richness comes from its grasses
Nourishing life and growing in strength
Not even fire devours its virility
For its fertile roots are its eternity
Shaping the vitality of its humble domain
All our far flung roads of stone
Our cities so rich and opulent
Soon will be lost to time’s decay
And overtaken by that emerald viridity
Which far out-reaches our passing nights
When you’ve gone too far away
Traveling to that other shore
And left me here to drink alone
In a sadness that feels so gray
I sometimes wonder will we remember
Translated by yamabuki
April 2011
Translation is a strange business
Every language is different
Every word and idea
Means different things
To different persons and peoples
And poetry has the added problem
Of speaking in hidden meanings
That often even the poet does not see
Some would say that the best course
Is to stay as true to the exact meaning
But as a poet I find this too constraining
So instead I choose to listen to the muse
And write what feels right and true
Even as I admit to my own weaknesses
And seek to find my way 
Through the maze of meaning
To the center of the poem’s soul
Bai Juyi ((Po Chü-i Chinese: 白居易)
Was a Tang Dynasty poet
I became interested in his poetry recently
When I read a poem by W S Merwin
On the New Yorker web site.
Merwin’s poem spoke to me strongly
So I looked up Bai Juyi
And saw why Merwin was drawn to Bai Juyi
For Bai’s poems speak to me too.
One of the ways in which writers learn
Is by translation of foreign writers
So I choose to translate Bai Juyi’s poem
As you can see below, others have translated him too
They used the Titles “Grass” and Grasses”
Which translates literally from the Chinese
In writing my own version
I came across the word Viridity
And chose to use it instead for the title of Bai’s poem
Though my poem differs somewhat from the original
I feel that my version connects in a way that feels right to me
For I choose to write in a way that is my own
I believe that in Poetry as in all Art
There is no good or bad
Only what we like or dislike
And Poetry, like Art is about crossing edges
Going into new territory
Which often is different
From what we know
I hope my version of Bai’s poem
Does this too
yamabuki
April 2011
————
Grass
Bai Juyi
The grass is spreading out across the plain,
Each year, it dies, then flourishes again.
It’s burnt but not destroyed by prairie fires,
When spring winds blow they bring it back to life.
Afar, its scent invades the ancient road,
Its emerald green overruns the ruined town.
Again I see my noble friend depart,
I find I’m crowded full of parting’s feelings.
from translation found on Internet at:
——————
Grasses
Bai Juyi
Boundless grasses over the plain
Come and go with every season;
Wildfire never quite consumes them —
They are tall once more in the spring wind.
Sweet they press on the old high- road
And reach the crumbling city-gate….
O Prince of Friends, you are gone again….
I hear them sighing after you.
from translation found on Internet at:
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