Just like in the English language, Chinese characters can have various definitions based on the context. And definitions can also change over time.
Often, in poetic literature, even many native Chinese or Japanese cannot understand the meaning of certain characters. Therefore, an insistance on a precise meaning for certain characters in Chinese or Japanese, let alone English translations, can sometimes prove futile.
for example. Many Chinese and Japanese can't explain it very well in their own language, let alone in English. But they all seem to know exactly what it is.