A widow bird sate mourning for her love
Upon a wintry bough;
The frozen wind kept on above,
The freezing stream below.
There was no leaf upon the forest bare,
No flower upon the ground,
And little motion in the air
Except the mill-wheel's sound.
Back translation of Su Manshu’s translation:
A Winter Day
A lone bird perches on a cold branch
Crying with sorrow for its kind.
Pond water begins to form ice;
How desolate is the chilly wind!
A bleak grove, no staying leaf;
A barren land, no flower buds.
Ten thousand sounds all in silence,
[One] only hears the loud well-lever.
Note on Su Manshu’s translation:
In eight pentasyllabic lines with a level-tone rhyme, Su Manshu’s translation may seem reminiscent of wu yan lüshi 五言律詩 (pentasyllabic regulated verse), but a closer look into the tonal scheme indicates that the translation does not follow the tonal rules of regulated verse. In addition, the choice of words and the loose parallelism of the second and third couplets recall ancient-style poetry, creating a poetic mood similar to that of the Gushi Shijiu Shou 古詩十九首 (Nineteen Old Poems).
 As first published in Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley ed., Posthumous Poems of Percy Bysshe Shelley (London: Printed for John and Henry L. Hunt, 1824), 217: https://archive.org/details/posthumouspoemso00shel/page/n5/mode/2up.  Su Manshu, Su Manshu quanji 蘇曼殊全集 (Beijing: Dangdai Zhongguo chubanshe, 2007), vol. 1, 56.  Red characters rhyme.
“Han xue shanji tu” 寒雪山雞圖 by Lü Ji 呂紀 (fl. late 15th century)
Picture credit: National Palace Museum, Taipei
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