作者：杜甫 （Author: Du Fu, 8th century)
竹凉侵卧内，bamboo cold invade bedchamber inside
野月满庭隅。wild moon fill yard corner
重露成涓滴，heavy dew become tiny stream drop
稀星乍有无。sparse star suddenly exist no
暗飞萤自照，dark fly firefly itself shine
水宿鸟相呼。water lodge bird each other cry
万事干戈里，ten thousand affairs shield dagger-ax inside
空悲清夜徂。in vain sorrow clear night fade away
Cold air from the bamboo grove invaded the bedchamber,
And the moon, shining from the wilderness, flooded the whole yard.
The dew grew heavy and began to drip，
A few stars appeared, then disappeared, came back again.
Flying in darkness, lightning bugs flickered.
Resting by the water, birds called to one another.
Dagger-axes and shields are at the heart of everything.
Hopelessly, I grieved as the clear night ended.
It is believed that Du Fu wrote this poem right after the An Lushan rebellion ended. The Au Lushan rebellion, which lasted for almost eight years, essentially left the Tang Dynasty devastated, making its western border vulnerable to the Tibetan forces. In 763 AD, immediately after the An Lushan rebellion ended, the Tibetan forces invaded the Tang Empire and briefly captured Chang’an, the capital of the Empire. Du Fu was living in Cheng Du at that time, faraway from the center of the warfare. However, he was very sympathetic towards the sufferings of commoners during the war. The first three couplets describe the natural sceneries at night around his residence, implying that he stayed up awake all night. The last couplet of the poem explains the reason for his sorrow — he was worried about the warfare but he couldn’t do anything to help mitigate the sufferings of the people.
Our translation of Weary Night is not very different from the other translations we’ve seen. We chose to use “invade” in the first line because it was more in keeping with a poem about dagger-axes and shields and because it was more literal. We chose to use “hopelessly” in the final line because the word felt more immediate and personal to use than “in vain.”