A Poem for the Swallows 燕詩 燕詩示劉叟 白居易 翻譯 英譯 Translation English - Vincent's Calligraphy

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A Poem for the Swallows
《燕詩》 /《燕詩示劉叟》
75 X 35cm
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A Poem for the Swallows
(《燕詩》 /《燕詩示劉叟》)
75  X  35cm in Regular Script (楷書)

Historical information
A Poem for the Swallows (《燕詩》 /《燕詩示劉叟》) was written by the renowned poet Bai Juyi (白居易, 772-846AD) of the Tang Dynasty.  It is a very popular poem in traditional Chinese culture as the poem allows one to reflect on the Confucian concept of filial piety (孝). According to a preamble of the poem, this work was composed by Bai Juyi for one sad elderly gentleman, Lau, whose son left him without a trace:

叟有愛子,背叟逃去,叟甚悲念之。叟少年時,亦嘗如是。故作《燕詩》以諭之矣。

Translation (by KS Vincent POON 潘君尚. Feb. 7, 2018)
Original Chinese
English Translation
梁上有雙燕,
翩翩雄與雌。
Two swallows were upon a wooden beam,
a he and a she stood elegantly (翩翩) as a team.
銜泥兩椽間,
一巢生四兒。
Clays amassed by their beaks (銜泥) rested between two wooden pilings,
a nest that hatched four offspring.
四兒日夜長,
索食聲孜孜。
The four offspring grew by the day and night,
demanding food endlessly as they chirp (孜孜) with all their might.
青蟲不易捕,
黃口無飽期。
Fresh worms were not easy to catch as preys,
and the young mouths (黃口) seemed not to be satiated by any day.
嘴爪雖欲敝,
心力不知疲。
Beaks and talons were about to be tattered (敝),
yet the minds and bodies knew no tired.
須臾十來往,
猶恐巢中飢。
In an instant, making ten flights to and fro,
still fearing starvation in the nest might take hold.
辛勤三十日,
母瘦雛漸肥。
Working hard for thirty days,
the mother became thin while the chicks gradually gained more weight.
喃喃教言語,
一一刷毛衣。
Murmuring to teach them how to speak,
brushing every one of their feathery coats to keep them neat.
一旦羽翼長,
引上庭樹枝;
Once their wings had grown and could expand,
it was time to lead them to a straight tree branch;
舉翅不回顧,
隨風四散飛。
the youngsters all spread their wings without looking back,
taking flight and dispersed with the wind leaving no tracks.
雌雄空中鳴,
聲盡呼不歸;
She and he cried out for the little ones in midair,
yet not even one return as their voices exhausted in despair;
卻入空巢裏,
啁啾終夜悲。
the couple returned to the empty nest,
tweeting all night sad.
燕燕爾勿悲,
爾當反自思:
O dear swallows you both should not have been so sad,
you should have reflected upon yourselves instead:
the days when you were also little chick toddler,
you too once took flight and turned your back on your mother.
思爾為雛日,
高飛背母時。
當時父母念,
今日爾應知!
Back then, your parent’s thoughts of sorrow,
this day, you shall fully know!
Translated by KS Vincent Poon Feb. 7, 2018
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