Yellow Crane Tower

Yellow Crane Tower Chinese Postcard 1

A few days ago I received two nearly identical Postcrossing postcards from the same individual, sent on the same day, but with different Postcrossing IDs. Both are views of Yellow Crane Tower, on the banks of the Yangtze River in China. Apparently there have been several towers of the same name, dating all the way back to 223 AD, with the tower having been destroyed and rebuilt many times.

I though it was pretty peculiar that my name should be given to the same individual twice on the same day….

Yellow Crane Tower Chinese Postcard 2

…but upon registering the postcards, I saw that the individual was using two different Postcrossing accounts. Ordinarily I’d have been a little put out, despite the cards being beautiful and appealing to me in many ways. But while the first card contained a personal message, the second card contained this message:

Seeing off Meng Haoran for Guangling at Yellow Crane Tower

A Chinese friend translated this and let me know that this is a poem by Li Bai (701-762) entitled “Seeing off Meng Haoran for Guangling at Yellow Crane Tower.” My friend provided me with both a literal and a modern translation, which gave me a little insight into the language.

Original Poem Literal Translation Modern English
故人西辞黄鹤楼, Old friend west take leave yellow crane tower, My old friend’s saying goodbye to the west, here at Yellow Crane Tower,
烟花三月下扬州。 Mist flowers three month down Yangzhou. He is going down to Yangzhou in the third month of willow blossoms.
孤帆远影碧空尽, Lone sail far shadow blue empty to limit, The lonely sail is in a distant shadow, on the edge of a jade/blue emptiness,
唯见长江天际流。 Only see Yangtze River horizon flow. All I see is the Yangtze River flowing to the far horizon.

All in all, quite remarkable.

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