English versions of a Chinese poem about Double Ninth Day, 10 21, 2015

The 9th day of the 9th lunar month is the traditional Chongyang Festival, or Double Ninth Festival. The custom of ascending a height, usually a mountain or a tower, to avoid epidemics was passed down from long time ago. Therefore, the Double Ninth Festival is also called "Height Ascending Festival". Ancient literary figures have left many poems depicting the activity. Now, let's read one of the most famous Chinese poems about Double Ninth Day, and its different English versions translated by well-known translators.


[唐] 王维





On the Mountain Holiday Thinking of my Brothers in Shandong

All alone in a foreign land,

I am twice as homesick on this day.

When brothers carry dogwood up the mountain,

Each of them a branch -- and my branch missing.

—— Tr. by Witter Bynner

Thinking of my Brothers on Mountain Climbing Day

Alone, a lonely stranger in a foreign land,

I doubly pine for kinsfolk on a holiday.

I know my brothers would, with dogwood spray in hand,

Climb up mountain and miss me so far away.

—— Tr. by X. Y. Z. (许渊冲)

On Double Ninth Day Thinking of my Brothers at Home

A lonely stranger in a foreign land I'm cast,

Sore sick for my dears on every festive day.

By now my brothers must some heights have passed,

But a cornel wearer missing'll damp the day.

—— Tr. by Wang Baotong(王宝童)

Thinking of my Brothers on the Double Ninth Festival in the East of Mount Hua

All alone in a strange land,

How I long for my folks on this festive day!

I imagine my brothers climb up a hill, dogwood on heads,

And all except me merrily go their way.

—— Tr. by Feng Huazhan(丰华瞻)

Thinking of My Brothers in Shandong on the Double Ninth Festival

A stranger in a strange land on each holiday,

I think of my kinsmen with a double care.

I know when my brothers wear medicine bags,

At the heights, they would find one to spare.

—— Tr. by Chen Junpu(陈君朴)

Nostalgia for my brothers on the Double Ninth Day

In an alien land, being a solitary alien guest,

I miss most my kin when comes the festival bright,

And think on the hill my brothers must feel distressed,

To find, when wearing a dogwood sprig, one not in sight.

Author brief

Wang Wei (?-761) of Tang Dynasty was born at Qi (now Qi County, Shanxi Province); later he moved with his father to Puzhou (now Yongji County, Shanxi Province). Most of his poems deal with beautiful landscapes.