作者：白居易 （Author: Bai Juyi, 8th century)
離離原上草 lush, lush plain on grass
一歲一枯榮 one year one dry glory
野火燒不盡 wild fire burn not all
春風吹又生 spring wind blow again life
遠芳侵古道 distant fragrance invade ancient road
晴翠接荒城 sun emerald-green meet ruined city
又送王孫去 again sendoff king’s grandson go
萋萋滿別情 dense, dense full separation feeling
Unstoppable, the grass on the ancient plain,
Each year it withers, then flourishes again.
Wildfire cannot destroy it all.
The spring wind blows it back to life.
From far away, its fragrance invades the old road
Its emerald green surges all the way to the ruined city.
Again, I say goodbye to my noble friend,
Unending, my feelings at seeing you leave.
Bai Juyi was only seventeen years old when he wrote Grass. Legend has it that when he went to the capitol city of Chang An, a gentleman reacted to his name, which means something along the lines of “relaxed, easy living,” by telling him that he wouldn’t find living in Chang An very easy. Bai Juyi then showed him his poem, and the gentleman corrected himself, noting that anyone with such extraordinary talent might indeed find life easy in Chang An.
When Bai Juyi wrote this, grass was already a metaphor both for the common people and for emotions. He was drawing on a long tradition when he combined the two. The repeated first word, which means “lush,” also has a secondary meaning of “depart,” foreshadowing the final two lines. We chose to translate it as “unstoppable” both because unstoppable also hints at departure and because it is a very dynamic word, suitable to the raw energy of something that cannot be destroyed.