Wang Wei: "Luzhai" (From Chinese)

At a Retreat in Luzhai
By Wang Wei
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

On a mountain apart — I see nobody
Only hear the echo of somebody's voice
Returning sunbeams enter the deep wood
And shine again upon the clear green moss

The Original:





  1. Alex -- I love the audio on these T'ang poems.  I wonder if you got any help on the reconstructed pronunciations from Stimson's book (Fifty-five T'ang Poems, or something like that)?  I have worked through parts of that quirky little book, but only as a reader and would-be translator.  I don't speak a word of Chinese, so I wouldn't know how handle modern pronunciation, let alone T'ang pronunciation.  Anyway, today's entry in my blog/anthology is "Deer Park," so I included a link to this page: and I put a general link to your blog on my links page.


    David Rosenthal  

  2. Many thankyous.

    Nah. Stimson's stuff is out of date. Not the whole book of his (which I have read and which is absolutely wondrous for other reasons), but rather the pronunciation contained therein. Stimson's transcriptions and his organization of the middle chinese feature grid are basically a formalization of the work of Bernhard Karlgren. Over half a century of advances in historical chinese linguistics (especially in the past ten years) have revealed flaws in Karlgren's thinking and brought to light new raw evidence that contradicts his premises- most especially work by W. Coblin, Abraham Chan and E. Pulleyblank.

    My readings are basically a synthesis of a good deal of such work- augmented by some of my own ideas regarding the Tang court dialect. My realizations of tone contours rely completely on work by Coblin, Mei Tsu Lin and Pulleyblank.

    That said, I initially used Stimson's transcription system for middle chinese for lack of a better alternative until I came upon a far superior and more robust system developed by David Branner. I began slowly replacing the Stimsonian transcriptions with the latter, though I never did get to this one.

  3. Not to make too much about a minor error, but the positions of "Luzhai" and "Wang Wei" in the "Modern Chinese" column above should be flipped.