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MULAN HUA : AN ELEGY

Nalan Xingde (1665 -1685, Qing dynasty), a Manchurian Chinese, was a famous lyrical poet. He was also the emperor’s personal body guard. A friend from Toronto forwarded two verses of the above poem to me. I was very impressed with the beauty of his lyrical verses. I took the opportunity to translate this lyric (ci poem) to share with my English readers. I am not Chinese educated, and I apologize for any error in mistranslation. For understanding, you have to read historical references, such as the love entanglement of the Tang emperor and his famous concubine, Yang.

Imprinted at first sight,
What plight would alter life?
Idlers would change mind,
Fickleness was truly blind.
At Lishan, love promised in the night,
Tears rained the bells with blame and spite.
My man in silk, how flimsy and callous!
Liked holding on a helpless twig in solace.

The Chinese version follows, with han yu pin in:

人生若只如初見,
ren sheng mo zhi ru chu jiang

何事秋風悲畫扇?
he shi giu feng pei hua shan

等閒變卻故人心,
Děngxián biàn què gùrén xīn,

卻道故人心易變。
què dào gùrén xīn yì biàn.

驪山語罷清宵半,
Lí shān yǔ bà qīng xiāo bàn,

淚雨零鈴終不怨。
lèi yǔ líng líng zhōng bù yuàn

何如薄倖錦衣郎,
Hérú bóxìng jǐnyī láng,

比翼連枝當日願!
bǐyì liánzhī dāngrì yuàn

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P/S: The forward mail to me was in in Chinese. Initially, this was my translation for the first two stanza:

1. 人生若只如初見,何事秋風悲畫扇
ren sheng mo zhi ru chu jiang, he shi giu feng pei hua shan
If one could hold one’s first impression of life afresh, one would not be affected by the changing vicissitudes of living; the wind in autumn would be a mere cooling pictorial bamboo hand fan.

image of the poet from the web

image of the poet from the web

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