Marc Yor

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Marc Yor passed away in January 2014. He rests in Saint-Chéron.

Marc Yor in Jussieu (June 1997)
Marc Yor

  The Master and a youngster
  Jussieu, June 1997


The Chinese words puzzling you were from WANG Wei's poem, The Farewell.

WANG Wei (701-761)[1], a Tang Dynasty poet, was one of the major figures in the Chinese literature. Many of his poems are recited by schoolchildren all over the country.

The Farewell enjoys a certain reputation in the West thanks to ... Gustav Mahler: the last movement of Das Lied von der Erde ("The Song of the Earth") is based on two poems, one of which is The Farewell.[2]

Bidding an ultimate farewell to an ami cher, the essential of The Farewell lies in its conclusion, formulated in ten words.

Ten very simple words, but alas, impossible to translate: you check N translations on the web, and you find N translations all sounding very different from each other.

Ten words reflecting the poet's perception of eternity: endless and limitless, in time, in space.

By the way, in Das Lied von der Erde, WANG Wei's poem is followed by Mahler's own text leading to:

Ewig ... ewig ...

[1] Wikipedia gives his years as 699-759.

[2] Mahler used a German translation, by Hans Bethge, of The Farewell. Bethge kept the beginning of the poem, but completely neglected the conclusion — you know why from the next paragraphs. Since all other commercial translations are based on the German version, they too, with no exception, miss the conclusion. The next time you listen to Ferrier/Walter or Ludwig/Klemperer, be aware that the booklet is, in fact, abridged.

Mise à jour le mardi 11 février 2014