"Inspired by ancient Chinese music "春江花月夜" - "A Moonlit Night on the Spring River" (Played with Vertical Bamboo flute/Chinese Bamboo Xiao)
The river scatters moon and sky, congeals them, light and wavering.
A bamboo flute brings spring by night, rolling miles of blue-green glaze.
Bright moon, a thousand rivers, thousands flowing, east-west, overflowing.
A cloud, a shadow crane（1） — a Taoist, freed to feathers, leaves the maze.
Both river, moon, forever rhythmed; sound and colour bind each other.
Clear river’s flowers skirt an islet; high sides’ grass, a luscious place.
The clasps of waves sound far, then close; at river’s edge, white rock, a stranger.
Clear breeze beyond the heavens, come and cross the river, stroke my face.
Far off, the river’s glints expand, becoming stars and cosmic stipples.
Clear river: boat, through wind and smoke. Moon sinks to river’s heart, ripples.
Version B | Translated by Jennifer Zeng and Gerard Traub
A crystal clear moon night, the river running afar,
melting into the sky
Moonlight dancing with the ripples
A note upon the bamboo flute leading us
To a thousand miles of flowing water
Rolling and beaming reflections.
The bright moon shines over countless rivers
All reaching to the moon
And who is that shadow flying across the clouds?
It could be a Taoist transforming into a crane(1)
Upon completion of cultivation.
Forever the rivers flow under the shining moon
Their ripples whispering to the moonlight
Flowers upon the islets extremely beautiful
Grasses along the riverside luxuriant and green.
The songs of the water singing from afar, yet so close
Who is standing beside the white rock at the edge?
Your gentle breeze from beyond the sky
Would you come down across the water and caress my cheeks?
Where the ripples stretching farther and stronger
Connecting to the galaxies and moving with the stars
With a small boat sailing past the wind and mist
The moon sinks into the heart of the river
Kissing every sparkling ripple.
1. A Taoist transforming into a crane: In Chinese history, legend has it that when Taoists succeeded in their cultivation, they could become immortals. Sometimes they transformed themselves into a beautiful crane and flew into the heavens, or rode upon a crane and flew away.