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HomeChinese Music and LyricsLǐ bái ( 李白; Lǐ bái; Li Bo))- 独坐敬亭山 ~ English Translation

Lǐ bái ( 李白; Lǐ bái; Li Bo))- 独坐敬亭山 ~ English Translation

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English #1 – Sitting Alone in Jingting Mountain

Flocks1 of birds fly high and vanish2, a single cloud, alone, calmly 3 drifts on 4

Never tired of looking at each other— only the Jingting Mountain and me5

1.Original text had all birds and no mention of the manner in which they flew
2.no word on disappearance and the bird could well be very much visible high in the sky
3.no word on the manner in which this cloud went, only that it is off for leisure (cf: going off on a relaxing holiday but the journey there does not necessarily have to be relaxing
4.to where? Original text: where it can experience doing nothing, leisure
5.no mention of anything or anyone but the mountain, specifically no mention of the poet in this half of the couplet, not even implied

Submitted by justanotherone

English #2 – Alone seated on the Jingting Mountain

Every bird [without exception] has flown off high1, a lone cloud is off [seeking] leisure by itself2

Gazing at one another is to both never tiresome, there is only the Jingting Mountain [that can do that]3

1.眾鳥 is comparable to 眾人, it can be translated as “all birds” but “every bird (without exception) is closer. A more head-on intepretation is “exhausted of birds which have all flown high”. Also, as written, there is no mention of “vanished” or “disappeared”, it is only implying that there are no birds on the ground where he is and not necessarily no birds in sight (vanishing and no sighting are commonly offered in translations online). I feel that this unspoken part ought to be kept unspoken for a faithful translation
2.Alternatively, it could be “going off alone idly” or “going off alone leisurely” although I feel that in 去閒, 閒 is far more likely to be a noun rather than an adverb, different for example from 閒去. Also, there is no mention of whether the cloud is going off in a hurry or slowly (entirely plausible to rush off to find leisure), but if you insist that 閒 can only be an adverb, then that ambiguity as written is taken away
3.many translations found online have something like “there is only the mountain and I”, but this is not at all what this couplet is saying. There is every suggestion that the poet was not travelling with any companion, but none that nobody else was also there. The idea is that to him, only the mountain can make him feel this way
Submitted by justanotherone

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