Thursday, March 19, 2015

扬州

I'm going on another little trip, this one to the 2500-year-old city (they're celebrating the anniversary this year) of Yangzhou, near where the Grand Canal mouthed in the Yangtse River and where, according to legend, Marco Polo spent years as an official. It was the idea of a friend who was reminded, at the start of the month, of this poem of Li Bai's:

故人西辞黄鹤楼, 烟花三月下扬州。

孤帆远影碧空尽, 惟见长江天际流。
 
It's a poem people must learn in school, as everyone I've told I'm going to Yangzhou starts reciting it! Here's a translation I found which my friend says doesn't really capture the beauty of the language:

You have left me behind, old friend, at the Yellow Crane Terrace, 
On your way to visit Yangzhou in the misty month of flowers; 
Your sail, a single shadow, becomes one with the blue sky, 
Till now I see only the river, on its way to heaven. 

Now the poem doesn't even take place in Yangzhou, and the "misty month of flowers," identified as the third month, is of course the third month of the lunar year, but I'm sure we'll have fun exploring! My access to this blog, as ever when I travel, is not assured, so you might not hear from me before Sunday. Know I'm following in another Marco's footsteps!

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