Some time ago I read two Chinese poems and now I can't find the original Chinese version, only the English translation. Maybe you could help me with a link or a title! The poems are from The Odes of Confucius:


  1. Sadness

The sun is ever full and bright,

The pale moon waneth night by night.

Why should this be?

My heart that once was full of light

Is but a dying moon to-night.

But when I dream of thee apart,

I would the dawn might lift my heart,

O sun, to thee.

2.Trysting Time

A pretty girl at time o’ gloaming

Hath whispered me to go and meet her

Without the city gate.

I love her, but she tarries coming.

Shall I return, or stay and greet her?

I burn, and wait.

Truly she charmeth all beholders,

’Tis she hath given me this jewel,

The jade of my delight;

But this red jewel-jade that smoulders,

To my desire doth add more fuel,

New charms to-night.

She has gathered with her lily fingers

A lily fair and rare to see.

Oh! sweeter still the fragrance lingers

From the warm hand that gave it me.

2 Answers 2


Fun fact: Western translators are really good at distorting classic Chinese poems.

I've read through several translation of Chinese poems by various western translators, some of them are quite good actually, but some of the distortions are just baffling. There was a U.S. poet who didn't know any Chinese, but used the literal translation of some poems, and used her poetic sense to rewrite them. There was another guy who didn't know Chinese but knew some Japanese, then he used a Japanese translations of the Chinese poems to do his translation. Oh you guys are really wonderful.

I've sifted through all 305 poems and couldn't find the first one. Either because it is made up, or because of some serious alternation of the original meaning. Boy this one is hard.

The second one has the original title of 静女(Quiet Girl) from section 国风·邶风(folk songs from 邶). This also took me some time because the meaning is also distorted to a great degree.





Update: Just found the book you've mentioned here. Read some of my old favorites. Now my eyes are bleeding.

Update again:

My word-to-word translation with grammar stripped. Now you should feel my pain.

Quite girl so beautiful, 
let-wait me at city corner.
Loving(-her) but not seeing(-her), 
(I) scratch head wander hesitantly.

Quiet girl so pretty, 
Give me red flute.
Red flute have glow,
(I) Enjoy love its beauty.

(She) from meadow fetch-back reed(-flower),
Indeed beautiful and special.
(I'm happy) Not(-because) of it being beautiful,
(but It's) beautiful girl's present.

As you see, the original translation got quite a few things wrong.

  • Yes, it is really very close - you did a great job! The one thing I am not sure that in chinese version - she gave him a flute, and in english - a jade. Two years ago I translated these two poems from chinese to russian - and there was a red jade. About the first poem I've remembered the first line - 太阳是永远充满光明. Tried to find in baidu.com but too many chinese is difficult to understand, no result. Now I am not sure that poems are from 诗经. But I found a book A Lute of Jade in the section The Odes of Confucius - there are these two poems. May be The Odes of Confucius and 诗经 are not the same Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 7:18
  • Here are the titles of the book goodreads.com/book/show/4951453-a-lute-of-jade Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 7:19
  • 1
    The first one might be 日居月諸, from the 國風, 北風 section. See here: zwbk.org/MyLemmaShow.aspx?zh=zh-tw&lid=76511
    – neubau
    Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 7:33
  • On that page, the Mandarin translation is clearer than the English one - it's in the voice of a woman pining for an unfaithful or dissolute husband, I think.
    – neubau
    Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 7:34
  • Sorry, that's 邶 (bei4) 風 , not 北風, as Wang has already mentioned.
    – neubau
    Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 7:39

You can see the translation of 诗经 (any many other classic pieces) here:


  • Thank you sire! Finally something that's accurate and readable! Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 6:55

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