Autumn Night, A Note
Wei Yingwu (~737 – 792)
By chance I think of you this autumn night
Between my steps and song, and cooling skies:
Within your quiet hills a pine cone falls,
For you as well must not have closed your eyes.
Qiū Yè Jì Qiū Yuán Wài
Huái jūn zhǔ qiū yè
Sàn bù yǒng liáng tiān
Kōng shān sōng zǐ luò
Yōu rén yīng wèi mián
Transliteration and Notes
Autumn Night Send-Off Qiu Staff Outside
Heart you coincides autumn night
Scatter step sing cool sky
Empty mountain pine-tree fruit falls
Secluded man must not-yet sleep
“Staff Outside” or Yuanwai was an archaic way of saying “Landlord.” Here, the poet is using it as an official title, meaning something like “country squire,” for his retired friend, Qiu Dan. “Coincides” means “happens to coincide with” or “by chance.” “Scatter step” means to go for a walk. “Pine-tree fruit” means pine nuts or a pine cone. “Secluded man” means a monk or hermit who lives in seclusion.
The poet describes missing his friend Qiu Dan, a Daoist monk, while going for a walk at night and singing to the sky. In the second half of the quatrain, he imagines traveling through the night to Qiu’s mountain retreat and hearing pine nuts fall, thus seeing that his friend is also out and about, unable to sleep, and thinking of him too.