Du Mu (Tu Mu)
The Yearning Lotuses
Du Mu (Tu Mu) 杜牧 Dù Mù (803-852) enjoyed a reasonably successful official career. His poetry is not particularly deep but his delight in landscapes and the pleasures of life (including singing girls and drinking) bring a feeling of balance and health to his poems. More of Du Mu's poems can be found at Chinese Poetry. See also Du Mu on Wikipedia.
In the lyrics to 'Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun', Roger Waters took the image of lotuses leaning on each other in yearning from the following poem, 'In Ch'i-an, on a Chance Theme (First of two)'.
The lotuses symbolise the poet's own thoughts in Qi'an county as he looks to the west where the capital, Chang'an, is located. In 'Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun', the yearning lotuses combine with the resting swallows and trembling leaves to create a feeling of expectation.
IN CH'I-AN, ON A CHANCE THEME
(First of two)
The setting sun is two rods high on the bridge over the brook,
Light floss of mist curls half way up from the shadows of the willows.
So many green lotus-stalks lean on each other yearning!
...For an instant they turn their heads to the West wind behind them.
|IN CH'I-AN, ON A CHANCE THEME (two verses)||齊安郡中偶題二首
Qí'ān-jùn zhng ǒu tí èr shǒu
Qi'an county-in (=in Qi'an county) occasional theme two verses
|The setting sun is two rods high on the bridge over the brook,||兩竿落日溪橋上，
liǎng gān luò rì xī qiáo shàng
two pole set sun brook bridge-on (=on brook bridge)
|Light floss of mist curls half way up from the shadows of the willows.||半縷輕煙柳影中。
bàn lǚ qīng yān liǔ yǐng zhōng
half strand light smoke willow shadow-in (=in willow shadow)
|So many green lotus-stalks lean on each other in yearning!||多少綠荷相倚恨，
du shǎo lǜ hé xiāng yǐ hèn
many few (=how many) green lotus mutual lean regret
|...For an instant they turn their heads to the West wind behind them.||一時迴首背西風！
yī shí huí shǒu bèi xī fēng
one time turn head back-to west wind
The ambiguities inherent in Chinese poetry can be seen in this alternative translation of the poem, from Chinese Poems:
- Two poles of bamboo in the setting sun on the bridge over the stream,
Half a thread of light mist among the reflected willows.
How many green lotuses hatefully supporting each other,
Instantly I turn my head, my back to the western wind.
At almost every line the interpretation is different, 'two rods high' vs 'two poles of bamboo', 'mist curls half way up' vs 'half a thread of light mist', 'lean on each other in yearning' vs 'hatefully supporting each other', 'they turn their heads' vs 'I turn my head'.