Springtime river blossoms under a moonlit night 春江花月夜

by Zhang Ruoxu 張若虛
The springtime river tides reach the sea’s horizon;
The image of a bright moon lives in the tides.

Carried by the tides, moonlight traverses thousands of miles,
Up and down the spring river, nowhere evades the shining moon.

As the river meanders through aromatic patches of flora,
Moonlight casts a thin icing on the flowering trees.

One cannot sense the motion of moonlight, an icy waterfall in the sky;
The brightness of the moon blurs the contour of white, sandy riverbanks.

The horizon is blurred where the monochrome water reaches into the sky;
A lone moon hangs high above the darkness of night.

When, one might ask, did one first see the moon on the riverbanks?
At what age, one might ask, did the river moon first shine upon men?

As generations and generations live on into the infinity of time,
The river moon remains invariant as ages elapsed.

One does not know who the river moon waits for,
But merely sees the Chang river delivers the running tides downstream.

Like the light, powdery clouds afloat in the sky,
The feeling of homesickness consumes travellers at Qingfengpu.

Whose narrow boat is it that drifts downstream this river tonight?
Atop bright, moonlit roofs, whence are people longing for each other?

Pity the moonlight traversing the echelons,
seeking the dresser table of those who’ve left to travel.

The lonely moonlight stays on the folding household curtains,
The lonely moonlight sticks to clothes, and cannot be washed away.

Apart, we see each other through the same moon but cannot hear each other.
It is my hope that my wishes be delivered through the moonlight that shines upon you.

The giant eagle flies and flies, but cannot fly past the boundlessness of moonlight;
The dragon-fish hops in the river water, leaving behind trails of ripples.

I dreamt of fallen flowers in my family pond the other day,
And although half of springtime has passed, I still cannot return home.

The river water is about to drain the remains of spring,
And the risen moon atop my family pond is falling west.

The narrow moon gradually hides itself deep in the sea fog.
The distance widens into infinity between Xieshi and Xiaoxiang.

I do not know how many returned when the moon still shines from above,
But the falling moon filled the riverbank trees with travellers’ longings for home.

Translator's Note (by Ruijie): The Chang river, also known as the "long river" or the Yangtze river, is
a river that flows in central China through Chongqing and Wuhan through Nanjing, Suzhou and Shanghai. Qingfengpu, Xieshi, and Xiaoxiang
are locations along the Yangtz riverbank. The "springtime river" in the poem likely refers to the Yangtze river.

Zhang Ruoxu is a Tang dynasty poet. [Wikipedia].

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