Kudzu Vine ||| Exchanges: Journal of Literary Translation

Translated from the ancient Chinese Book of Odes (Seventh Century BCE)






The kudzu vine has spread

to the middle of the gorge,

heavy with leaves!

Orioles fly by

to gather in the bushes

and practice their songs.

The kudzu vine has spread

to the middle of the gorge,

thick with leaves!

Cut and boiled,

they make fine fabric

for comfortable clothes.

I spoke to the head wife:

told her I’m going home.

My clothes and I

no longer feel clean;

so, washed or unwashed,

I’m off back to my family.






Michael Farman is a retired Electronics Engineer. Early in his career he studied Mandarin at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, but began translating Chinese classical and ancient poetry later in life. His translations have since appeared frequently in literary and translation journals and in the anthologies: Clouds and Rain; A Silver Treasury of Chinese Lyrics; Chinese Erotic Poetry; 300 Tang Poems; and Jade Mirror: Women Poets of China, which he also edited. As a member of ALTA, he has appeared on panels relating to Chinese literature and contributed articles and reviews to their journal. Michael Farman also appeared in TLRs Spring 2002 issue, Reality in Translation. 

“Kudzu Vine” was originally published in Exchanges: Journal of Literary Translation.

His poems “Lords and Masters” and “Wild Country” are featured in TLR’s Granary issue.