One evening, a dear friend sent me a Chinese poem which she composed after listening to a touching song.

Though my Chinese Language ability is not extremely good, her words moved me as it painted an emotional picture.

Here’s her composition:

聆听〈长亭送别〉之感言

忧悲苦恼相缚缠
戚戚相送何时返
千古依然形如影
何不离愁脱其烦

日月星尘除我暗
荣耀告别我过往
庄严圣洁之殿堂
离系离缚心宽敞

胡丽英笔

She wanted to have this beautiful poem translated into English. That was my challenge-to-be!

This brought back memories of my university days, majoring in English Language. I once did a module on Translation and DU FU Tang Dynastry Poetry (杜甫唐诗).

Tapping on what little I could remember from the module about translation, one thing for sure is that translating literature works like poetry with some much imagery and emotions will lose its essence if it was done merely on a literal level.

I told Sister Li Ying that I will need time to work on it and only after she sends me an unpacked version of her poem with simplier explanation of her poem.

After she sent me the explanation of her poem, 4 hours later at 10.30pm, I could not sleep. Why?

Poetry is really such a beautiful work of art. It is a treasure cove, holding precious gems and stones within. The gems in Sis Li Ying’s poem were glittering so brightly in the sky like diamonds that I can’t keep my eyes off them! How can I go to bed with this amazing art piece awaiting to be represented and expressed in a second language?

With the tune of “FAREWELL” in my head and Sis Li Ying’s beautiful reflection expressed through poetry in my mindstream, I worked on the translation.

Have a listen to the song before you read on:

弘一大师的〈长亭送别〉

Li Shutong’s 《Farewell》

*Li Shutong is also known as Grand Master Hong Yi. (1880-1942)

I was totally inspired and charged to complete the translation that night, though Sis Li Ying told me to take my time. So here it is…

Inspired by Li Shutong’s 《Farewell》

Sadness and grief suffocates our souls like straitjackets

Endless farewells yearn for moments of hopeful reunions

Life after life from the ancient times, the pain of departures shadows our existence

When will we end this treacherous sadness of cyclic existence

Alas our Buddha and lineage masters have shown us a way to dispel darkness and gain freedom

Will thus peacefully let sufferings and pains pass in glory as they have accomplished their destined purpose of making each of us, an evolved and better self

May the Dharma cleanse my heart and soul, making it a magnificent palace of pure virtue

Breaking barriers, we will forever depart from the evil clutches of suffering and thus gain the sweet taste of Prajna and ultimate freedom

Chinese Poem Written by: Oh Li Ying
Translated into English by: Irene Lee

Beautifully expressed in poetry by Sis Li Ying!

Thanks for this beautiful linguistic exploration and awakening journey filled with the ultimate truth from Buddha!

MEGA REJOICE!

Here’s her unpacked poem in Chinese:

*忧悲苦恼相缚缠*
自古以来我们都被忧伤,悲痛,苦恼等等给束缚和缠绕着。

*戚戚相送何时返*
-期-期、乃至-生又-生的离别后,要等到什么时候才相聚。

*千古依然形如影*
生离死别犹如影子般,在千古的岁月里-直跟随着我们。

*何不离愁脱其烦*
为何不从这些爱别离苦等,这种种束缚和缠绕透脱出来呢?

*日月星尘除我暗*
师长佛陀有如日月星尘般的法,就是为了帮助我去除种种的无明黑暗。

*荣耀告别我过往*
以前的种种不如意,所有的伤痛,都是让我成长的,除了荣耀它们也不用再去执取过往。

*庄严圣洁之殿堂*
以法来滋润庄严我内心的世界,令其净化至圣洁。

*离系离缚心宽敞*
离开所有烦恼的系缚,心中无比的宽敞。犹如遨游空性般的自在。

Photo credits: Google.com