Translation of Li’s Poem “Cicada”

Just translated another Li’s poem and I feel it’s really hard to keep the poem’s original tone. There’re only five syllables in each line in the original work, while iambic pentameter barely allows me to extract most literal meanings. Therefore, I let go all his fancy language, which is almost untranslatable. The original poem doesn’t have any pronoun, which makes it mostly consist of many pictures rather than the poet’s conversation with a cicada.


Aloof, and thus famish’d thou hast oft gone,

But keep singing a tune plaintive in vain.

Fading is thy mournful song before dawn,

But the shade is callous to thy refrain.

Unappreciat’d, I’ve drift’d long to my regret,

Leaving my old fields desert’d and uncared.

Following the example thou hast set,

I’ll remain pure ‘n truthful no matter where.