Countryside Nastiness

Published on . Updated on .
Tags: poetry, parody, translation, chinese, zh

In September, Chris Stasse sent me a letter which concluded with his calligraphic rendering of “Countryside Pleasures No. 6” 《田园乐——六》, by Tang-era master poet Wang Wei. My reply to Chris included a parody of the same poem.

My version’s title swaps out the third character, 乐 le4 “pleasure, happiness”, for the rhyming word 恶 e4 “evil, vicious, harmful.” Here is “Countryside Nastiness,” by Wang Wei’s little-renowned cousin, Wrong Wei.

桃红中坏烈焰
柳绿烧成灰柱
花落腾于热气
鸟啼出窝恐离

Translation:

Red peaches suffer from fierce flames
Green willows burn up into pillars of ash 
Flowers fall, then rise on heated gusts
Birds cry, leaving their nests in fear

Finally, let’s compare my parody with the original. In my imitation, I retained the first two syllables in each line, marked like this.

桃红复含宿雨
柳绿更带朝烟
花落家童未扫
莺啼山客犹眠

My parody was inspired by the wildfires raging through California at the time of writing. After posting my letter, I learned that the fire in Santa Rosa came within 3 km. of Chris’s house! The news made me feel a bit embarassed at having written a lighthearted poem on the topic, but Chris put me at ease:

我觉得这首诗很美,真的,我一点也不介意。就算我房子被烧得一干二净,你的诗在我眼里还是会有一种悲壮的美。