黃宏發:中詩英譯

黃宏發:中詩英譯

文章BW Book Worm » 週五 12月 03, 2010 1:39 am

翻譯難,譯詩更難。收集以供各位參閱欣賞。

黃宏發 Andrew W.F. Wong (Huang Hongfa) was the last president of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong during British rule. He first picked up this fascinating hobby some three years ago and has so far been concentrating on the “jueju” 绝句 or quatrain (4-lined verse) of the Tang Dynasty venturing occasionally into other forms of classical Chinese poetry.

岳飛 <滿江紅>
Yue Fei (1103-1141): To the Tune of “Man Jiang Hong” (The River All Red)

1 By the railing I stand,
2 Showers have stopped,
3 I bristle with wrath, my hair uncaging.
4 My eyes towards the sky,
5 To arms, long I cry,
6 To war for a heavenly cause, I’m raging.
7 My decade of deeds, as dust I deem, short of the final victory,
8 O’er thousands of miles, day or night, been in battle engaging.
9 So take it to heart, get set,
10 Lest in vain we’ll regret,
11 Turned grey our youthful heads, on aging.

12 Held captive still our sovereigns,
13 Unavenged, this burning shame.
14 When? why now is the hour!
15 To burn out our vengeful flame.
16 Go charge, you columns of chariots --
17 Crash that gap at Helan-Shan, crush it in heaven’s name.
18 When hungry we’ll eat their body, thirsty, drink their blood,
19 We’ll so brag of our bravery, as if them tartars were game.
20 Now in rally we stand, all over again --
21 Our homeland of old, to recapture,
22 Our Emperor, “All hail!” to acclaim.

Translated 11th September 2009 (revised 13.9.09; 15.9.09; 17.9.09; 18.9.09; 23.9.09; 24.9.09; 15.10.09; 16.10.09; 19.10.09; 4.11.09; 16.12.09; 9.3.10; 11.3.10; 16.7.10)

岳飛: 寄調 滿江紅

1 怒髮衝冠 2 憑闌處 3 瀟瀟雨歇
4 抬望眼 5 仰天長嘯 6 壯懷激烈
7 三十功名塵與土 8 八千里路雲和月
9 莫等閒 10 白了少年頭 11 空悲切

12 靖康恥 13 猶未雪
14 臣子恨 15 何時滅
16 駕長車 17 踏破賀蘭山缺
18 壯志饑餐胡虜肉 19 笑談渴飲匈奴血
20 待從頭 21 收拾舊山河 22 朝天阙

=====
Notes:

* The original poem is in 2 stanzas of 11 lines each, with one common rhyme at lines 3, 6, 8, 11, then 13, 15, 17, 19, 22. I have taken this to mean that there are 9 sentences in the poem with 4 in the first stanza and 5 in the second. I have been unable to find a common rhyme for my English rendition and have decided to use an “-aging” rhyme in stanza 1 and an “-ame/aim” rhyme in stanza 2. I have also been unable to translate the lines correspondingly, and have changed the order where necessary but only within the respective sentences.

* Lines 1, 2 and 3 (being one sentence): Line 3 translates the original line 1, lines 1 and 2 are lines 2 and 3 in the original. In line 3, I have omitted translating 冠 “hat/helmet/headgear” and have simply rendered it as “my hair uncaging”.

* Lines 4, 5 and 6 (being one sentence): I have moved 仰天 “towards the sky” from the original line 5 to merge with 抬望眼 “raise my eyes to” in line 4 as “My eyes towards the sky”. I have added “To arms” in line 5 and “To war” in line 6 as the contents of the “long cry” 長嘯 to explain the making of this war poem. I had originally translated line 6 loosely as “’Tis a war for a heavenly cause we are waging”, but have now decided for “To war for a heavenly cause, I am raging”. In either case, I have omitted translating 懷 “bosom/chest” or “heart/mind” which is implied in “for a heavenly cause”.

* Line 7: I have taken 三十 to mean “thirty odd years of age”, the poet must have been in the army for some 10 years, hence, “decade”. I have added “short of the final victory” to explain why the poet deemed his “deeds/feats/victories” as “dust/trifles”.

* Line 8: I have used “thousands of miles” to translate 八千里 “8,000 li” being only 2,400 miles. I have added “been in battle engaging” to make plain that the poet was in the army and at war.

* Lines 9, 10 and 11 (being one sentence): In line 9, I have taken 莫等閒 to mean 莫等閒視之 “don’t take it lightly” or “take it seriously”, hence, “take it to heart”. Line 11 translates the original line 10, and line 10, the original line 11.

* Lines 12 and 13 (being one sentence): “Held captive still our sovereigns” in line 12 is not a literal translation of 靖康 “Jing Kang” which is the name of a period, but explains the history of the end of the North Song 北宋 dynasty with the Emperor 欽宗 Qin Zong and his father, the abdicated 徽宗 Hui Zong, both captured in the 2nd year of Jing Kang, hence, “sovereigns (in plural)” I have moved 恥 “shame” from the original line 12 to line13 and 猶 “still” from the original line 13 to line 12.

* Lines 14 and 15 (being one sentence): I have scrambled these 2 lines. The original line 15 何時滅 is taken to be a rhetorical question and translated as “When? why now is the hour!” in line 14 and “To burn out” in line 15. The original line 14 臣子恨 is translated as “our (臣generals’ and officials', 子 soldiers' and subjects') vengeful flame” in line 15.

* Lines 12 to 22 (the second stanza): I am grateful to Xu Yuan-zhong 許淵冲 for his “burning shame(line 13) and vengeful flame(line 15)” rhyme in his rendition of the same poem, pp. 470-473, “Bilingual Edition of 300 Song Lyrics”, Beijing, Higher Education Press, 2004 which has encouraged me to follow the rhyme through the entire second stanza, thus “name(17)-game(19)-acclaim(22)”.

* Line 17: I have added “in heaven's name” to continue the “-ame/aim” rhyme and to further justify the war.

* Lines 18 and 19 (being one sentence): I have scrambled the 2 lines. First, I have put “hungry, eat, body” (line 18) and “thirsty, drink, blood” (line 19) both into line 18. Second, I have scrambled 胡虜 “the Hu people” (line 18) and 匈奴 “the Hun people” (line 19)---虜 and 奴 being derogatory words for such peoples---into line 19 as simply “them tartars”, with the word “them” signifying enmity (us and them) and the word “tartars” in lower case to convey the derogatory sense. Third, I have merged 壯志 (line 18) and 笑談 (line 19) into line 19 as “brag of our bravery”. I have chosen “brag” (I have now rejected “boast”) to translate 笑談 and added “as if … were game” 獵物 to make clear my interpretation that the poet’s soldiers, though full of hatred (see “them tartars”), may not really be cannibals.

* Line 20: I take 待 to mean “ready/set/about to”, not “wait”, and 從頭 to mean “again/afresh”, not “begin/to or from the beginning”, hence, “Now in rally we stand, all over again”.

* Line 21: 收拾 is taken to mean “recapture/recover/restore/re-claim”, not “tidy up/reclaim”. I have translated 舊山河 as “homeland of old”

* Line 22: 朝天阙 “towards the heavenly (imperial palace) gate” is rendered in very concrete terms originally as “Long live the Emperor! to acclaim”, now as “Our Emperor, ‘All hail!’ to acclaim”.
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王昌齡 <芙蓉樓送辛漸>

文章BW Book Worm » 週五 12月 03, 2010 1:42 am

王昌齡 <芙蓉樓送辛漸>

Wang Changling (698-757): At the Lotus Inn to Bid Adieu to Xin Jian: Verse I

1 Tonight, in to Wu, o’er the River, it rains of sleet so keen;
2 At dawn, alone you’ll depart, by the Chu hills in between.
3 My kin and kith in Luoyang, should after me they ask --
4 My heart is ice immaculate, abiding in a vessel pristine.

Translated 11th January 2009 (revised 13.1.09; 14.1.09; 15.1.09; 19.1.09; 18.2.09; 24.2.09; 31.3.09; 3.4.09; 28.7.10)

王昌齡: 芙蓉樓送辛漸 其一

1 寒雨連江夜入吳
2 平明送客楚山孤
3 洛陽親友如相問
4 一片冰心在玉壺

Notes:

* The original is in 7-character lines. This English rendition is in hexameter (6 metrical feet). The rhyme scheme is AABA as in the original.

* Title: I have taken 芙蓉 to refer to 水芙蓉 “lotus” rather than 木芙蓉 or 木槿 “hibiscus”, hence, “the Lotus Inn” to name the inn/restaurant situated at the north-western corner of the city wall of Zhenjiang 鎮江 (referred to as Wu in poem) on the south bank of and closest to the River 長江.

* Interpretation and lines 1 and 2: I have interpreted the scene to be that of a farewell dinner the night before Xin Jian’s departure. If the scene were to be that of morning departure, the 2 lines can read:

At night, into Wu, o’er the River, it rained of sleet so keen,
‘Tis dawn, alone you’ll depart, by the Chu hills in between.

* Line 1: I have taken 夜入吳 “entering Wu at night” to mean 寒雨 “sleet” and not the poet or his friend Xin Jian or both of them entering Wu which here refers to Zhengjiang.

* Line 2: I have taken 楚山孤 (Chu hills alone/desolate) to mean the poet’s friend Xin Jian travelling past the hills of Chu “alone/on his own” on his way to Luoyang, and not to mean the “desolate” hills of Chu.

* Line 3: I had considered “family and friends” but have decided for “kin and kith”. I am grateful to my friend Ben Fu for pointing out to me that the right order of the expression is “kith and kin”. I have, however, decided to adhere to “kin and kith” for 2 reasons. First, this is the order in the original poem. Second, according to the Shorter Oxford Dictionary, the meaning of the expression “kith and kin” has first changed from “country and kinsfolk” to “acquaintance and kinsfolk”, but “now often taken as pleonastic (冗詞probably for the alliterative effect) for kinsfolk and relatives” only, and not friends. I hope my order of “kin and kith” can help restore the original, proper meaning to the word “kith” as “friends” and “acquaintance”. I had earlier decided to frame the line as “If my kin and kith in Luoyang, should after me inquire”, but have now decided to change it back to “If my kin and kith in Luoyang, should after me they ask”. I had considered “say”, “pray”, “oh” and “ah” and had decided for “well” as a connective at the end of the line. I have now decided I can do without a connective.

* Line 4: The image here is obviously 冰(ice)清(clean)玉(jade)潔(clean). I have, therefore, added “immaculate/pure” to explain “ice” and omitted any reference to “jade” (which in this context should be “white jade” 白玉, but “jade” 玉 standing alone creates a mistaken green image) in favour of a “clean vessel”, hence, “ice immaculate” and “vessel pristine”. I had considered “Like ice immaculate is my heart”, “My heart is like ice immaculate”, “As pure as ice is my heart”, “Pure like ice is my heart” and “Immaculate like ice is my heart”, but have decided for “My heart is ice immaculate”. I had considered “alive”, “vibrant”, “throbbing”, “vibrating” to go with “in a vessel pristine” so as to dispel any image of an “icy, cold heart” but decided that the adjectives “immaculate” and “pristine” are powerful enough and that “alive” etc. would add too much to the meaning. I then considered the plainer and more neutral words of “held”, “kept”, “laid”, “resting”, “lying” and “sitting” and have decided for “abiding”.
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張繼 <楓橋夜泊>

文章BW Book Worm » 週五 12月 03, 2010 1:45 am

張繼 <楓橋夜泊>
Zhang Ji (?-780): Moored for the Night by the Maple Bridge

1 The moon is down, ravens caw, a frostiness fills the sky;
2 By the riverside maples and fishing lights, sad, insomnious I lie.
3 Beyond the walls of Gusu City, where Hanshan Monastery stands,
4 Bong, goes the bell at midnight to touch the boat of the passer-by.

Translated 5th June 2008 (revised 6.6.08; 11.6.08; 13.6.08; 18.6.08; 12.3.09)

張繼: 楓橋夜泊

1 月落烏啼霜滿天
2 江楓漁火對愁眠
3 姑蘇城外寒山寺
4 夜半鐘聲到客船

Notes:

* Zhang Ji was not a major poet, but this poem has always been extremely popular and is represented in numerous paintings. This English rendition is in heptameter (7 metrical feet) to emulate the original 7-character lines. The rhyme scheme is AABA as in the original.

* Title and line 2: There is a claim that江and楓 are the names of two bridges: the Maple Bridge楓橋 as in the title of the poem and the River Village Bridge江村橋, that both bridges existed and so named in Zhang’s days, and that江楓 means the waters near the two said bridges. Even if this were true, “riverside maples” is certainly much more poetic than any phrase which includes the word “bridge” not mentioned in the line itself.

* Line 1: I had used “crows caw” but have now decided for “ravens caw” for the unstressed “vens” syllable..

* Line 3: “Gusu” 姑蘇 is present day Suzhou蘇州. “Hanshan” is literally Cold Mountain寒山. It is also the name of a famous Buddhist monk, but the claim that the monastery was named after the monk (who probably lived in late 700’s to early 800’s) is dubious.

* Line 4: I had considered replacing “goes” by “tolls” but decided not to as it might produce an image of Western church bells tolling and ringing. “Bong” is the correct sound of the single Buddhist monastery bell hit by the end of a large wooden pole. The word “touch” is chosen for its ambiguity, and was originally, literally “reach”. I had also considered using “bless”. But there is already an abundance of the “b” alliteration of “bong”, “bell” and “boat” in the line and “By” and “Beyond” in the previous lines.
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李白 <夜思 (靜夜思)>

文章BW Book Worm » 週五 12月 03, 2010 1:49 am

李白 <夜思 (靜夜思)>

Li Bai (701--762): Night Thoughts (Thoughts in the Still of the Night)

1 Before my bed, the moonlight so bright,
2 Be it frost aground? I suppose it might.
3 I raise my eyes towards the silvery moon, then
4 Lower them, musing: I’m homesick tonight.

Translated 27th November 2008 (revised 28.11.08; 5.12.08; 6.12.08; 8.12.08; 15.12.08; 9.1.09; 19.2.09; 7.7.09)

李白: 夜思 (靜夜思)

1 床前明月光
2 疑是地上霜
3 舉頭望明(山)月
4 低頭思故鄉

Notes:-

* The original poem is in 5-character lines. This English rendition is in tetrameter (4 metrical feet). My rhyme scheme is AABA as in the original.

* Title and lines 3 and 4 of my old translation (see note below): Popularly entitled 夜思, but older versions entitle it 靜夜思 with the additional character 靜 (still, quiet, silent, etc.), hence, my old title “Thoughts in the Still of the Night” and the addition of “in the still of the night, tonight” to line 4 of the old translation. Older versions of the poem feature 山月(hill + moon) instead of明月(bright moon). My old translation of line 3 covers both meanings. This old translation is abandoned but is presented in the last note to record my failure.

* Line 1: The word 床 should mean “railings of the well”, not “bed”, as in line 4 of another poem長干行 Ballad of Changgan also by Li Bai, i.e. “遶床弄青梅” or “Round and round the well we pelted each other with green plums” as translated by Innes Herdan on p. 108 of her Three Hundred Tang Poems, Taipei: Far East, 1973, 2000. In that context, only “well” makes sense. Even here, “well” makes better sense as one’s bedside rarely if ever gets frosted. But the “bedside” interpretation is so popular that I have chosen “Before my bed” over “Before the well” or “Around the well”.

* Line 2: Although the line features 2 “it(s)”, it would render the line incomprehensible if the either “it” were to be deleted. I have therefore inserted a question mark after “aground”. I had considered “on the ground” but have decided for “aground”. I had considered “I guess” but have decided for “suppose”.

* Line 3: I have chosen to translate 頭 “head” as “eyes” to make it possible for me to compress the pentameter (5 feet) “I raise my head to eye the silvery moon, then” which is what the original poem says, into a tetrameter (4 feet) “I raise my eyes towards the silvery moon, then”

* Line 4: I had used “brooding” which sounds too dark, depressed, and have now decided for “musing” which is natural, neutral and ambiguous. The last word “tonight”, which is implicit in the original poem, is added to complete the rhyme.

* Abandoned version: Below is an older translation of mine penned in June and revised in December 2007 which I have abandoned. It is in hexameter (6 metrical feet) and features two couplets (rhyme scheme AABB):-

Li Bai (701--762): Thoughts in the Still of the Night

1 So luminous is the moonlight, on the floor before my bed,
2 And so white that, apparently, the ground is frosted instead.
3 I raise my head to behold , o’er the hilltop, a moon so bright;
4 I drop it in thoughts of my homeland, in the still of the night, tonight.

6 June 2007 (revised 9.6.07; 3.12.07; 5.12.07)
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馬致遠 <天淨沙 秋思>

文章BW Book Worm » 週五 12月 03, 2010 1:51 am

馬致遠 <天淨沙 秋思>
Ma Zhiyuan (1260-1364): Tian Jing Sha (Sky Pure/Cleansed Sand): Autumn Thoughts

1 An old tree, dried vines entwined, by ev’ning crows come roosting;
2 O’er a small bridge, by a running stream, homes of people nestling.
3 On an old road, in the autumn wind, a scrawny horse keeps trudging;
4 The sun, slanting, to the west, setting ---
5 Heart-torn, lovelorn, the wanderer, to the verge of the sky a-roaming.

Translated 18th August 2010 (revised 19.8.10; 20.8.10; 6.9.10)

馬致遠: 天淨沙: 秋思

1 枯藤老樹昏鴉
2 小橋流水人家
3 古道西風瘦馬
4 夕陽西下
5 斷腸人在天涯

Notes:

* The original is in 5 lines with the first 3 lines in 6 characters, the 4th a 4-character line and the last line back to 6 characters. The rhyme scheme is AAAAA with an “a” or “ah” rhyme. (It should be noted that although the last word in the last line is pronounced “ngai” in Cantonese, it is “ya” in Putonghua.). My English rendition emulates the pattern of the original with 6 beats/stresses in the first 3 and last lines and 4 beats/stresses in the 4th line. My rhyme scheme is AAAAA like the original with a uniform “ing” ending. Although, strictly speaking, a simple “ing” does not constitute a rhyme, the pattern is pleasing to the eye and the rendition, hopefully, also pleasing to the ear. As will be seen from the following work draft, most of the verbs ending with “ing” are not in the original (line 1-3 and 5) but are added primarily to produce this eye rhyme pattern:-

Dried (bald/bare) vines, old tree, evening crows (add: roosting)
Small bridge, running water (stream/rivulet), people (others) homes (add: nestling)
Old road, west (autumn/high) wind, scrawny horse (add: trudging)
Evening sun west sets (slanting/setting)
Guts-torn (heart-torn/love-lorn) man at sky’s (land’s) end (add: a-roaming)

As can also be seen from the above, although none of the verbs concerned is in the original, each and every is implied and are essential in translation whether into English or into modern day Chinese.

* Line 1: I had considered “dead”, “bald” and “bare” for 枯 but have decided for “dried”. I have added “entwined”, which is not in the original, for assonance with “vines” in addition to being descriptive of a scene of the symbiosis of the tree and vines. The word “come” in “come roosting” should be read unstressed.

* Line 2: For 水I have chosen “stream” over “waters/rivulet”. For 人家I had considered “others’ homesteads/homes of others” to cover the poet’s (though ambiguous, yet readily apparent) meaning that none of them is the wanderer’s home, but have decided that “homes of people” should suffice. “Nestle/nestling” here is ambiguously rich in meaning. It takes in to\he meaning of both “lie half hidden or embedded in some place” and “lie snugly in some situation”. (Shorter Oxford Dictionary)

* Line 3: For 西風 I have rejected the literal “west wind(s)” as, to the Englishmen and the Europeans, west wind is a spring wind, Zephyr, which is not what the poet refers to. I have then considered “winds now high” but have decided for “in the autumn wind”. The word “keeps” in “keeps trudging” should read unstressed.

* Line 5: I have spelt out 人 “man” as the “wanderer”. I had considered “to/in the/a land at the sky’s end a-roaming”, but have decided for “to the verge of the sky a-roaming”. I have added “a- (meaning ion the process of)” to “roaming” so as to amplify my interpretation that 在天涯 means 浪迹天涯, not just “at the verge of the sky”, but “to the verge of the sky a-roaming”.
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杜牧 <贈別 其二>

文章BW Book Worm » 週五 12月 03, 2010 1:54 am

杜牧 <贈別 其二>
Du Mu (803-852): Given in Parting: II (Fond are my feelings …)

1 Fond are my feelings yet unfeeling I feign;
2 A wine cup in hand, I merry make in vain.
3 Heartful, the candle, our parting it grieves,
4 In tears it melts, till it’s daylight again.

Translated 17th May 2009 (revised 18.5.09; 19.5.09; 20.5.09; 26.6.09; 24.11.09; 6.1.10; 18.8.10)

杜牧: 贈別 其二(多情卻似 …)

1 多情卻似總無情
2 唯覺樽前笑不成
3 蠟燭有心還惜別
4 替人垂淚到天明

Notes:

* This English rendition is in tetrameter (4 metrical feet) while the original is in 7-character lines. The rhyme scheme is AABA as in the original.

* Alternative rendition: With the same rhyme scheme, the verse can alternatively be rhymed and written as follows:

1 Fond are my feelings, unfeeling I appear;
2 Before the wine-flask/cups, no laughter, I fear.
3 Heartful is the candle, our parting, it grieves,
4 And in tears it melts, till morning is here.

* Line 2: Interpreting 樽 as a flask/bottle (which is what the word means in current Cantonese), I had used “A wine-flask at the table” and “Before the wine-flask”. But the word should mean a cup/vessel to drink from, I had then changed the word and, hence, the line to “Before the wine-cups, we merry make in vain”. I have now revised the line to read “A wine cup in hand, I merry make in vain”.

* Line 3: I had considered “heartfelt”, but have decided for “heartful”, a word extant but not in good currency, but is the best choice for 有心 since it hints at the candlewick 燭芯.

* Line 4: I had used “till it’s morning again” and “till the sky lights again”, but have now decided for “till it’s daylight again”.

* Lines 3 and 4: I had originally penned them as “The candle, for our parting, its heart out, it weeps, A-dribbling teardrops, till it’s daylight again.” I have decided against them for being less than faithful to the original and far too exaggerated.
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元稹<菊花>

文章BW Book Worm » 週五 12月 03, 2010 1:57 am

元稹<菊花>
Yuan Zhen (779-831): Chrysanthemum Flowers

1 Like Tao, all round my cottage, autumn flowers I grow,
2 Along their hedges I amble, till the slanting sun sinks low.
3 Of flowers, oh dear chrysanthemum, not that I love you best,
4 Just that once you’re gone, there’s no other flower to follow.

Translated 12 th May 2010(revised 13.5.10; 14.5.10; 15.5.10; 9.9.10)

元稹: 菊花

1 秋叢繞舍似陶家
2 遍繞籬邊日漸斜
3 不是花中偏愛菊
4 此花開盡更無花

Notes:

* This English rendition is in hexameter (6 metrical feet) while the original is in 7-character lines. The rhyme scheme is AABA as in the original.

* Lines 1 and 2: I am grateful to Xu Yuanchong (XYZ) for the rhyme of “grow-low” in his translation of the same poem entitled “Chrysanthemums” on p. 471 of his “Bilingual Edition 300 Tang Poems”,Beijing: Higher Education Press, 2000.

* Line 1: Tao is the晉 Jin Dynasty poet Tao Yuanming陶淵明or Tao Qian陶潛(365-427) who, in recluse, loved the chrysanthemum. I have chosen to translate陶家not as “Tao’s” cottage but as “Tao” himself so as to end the line with the rhymed “grow”. I have chosen not to translate叢as “bushes/plants” but as “flowers” which chrysanthemums are.

* Lines 3 and 4: I have changed the third person “chrysanthemum” in the original to the second person in this English rendition which, I hope, makes it much more personal as if the poet is addressing this flowering plant.
*
Line 3: I had considered “not that on you I dote” and “not that I favour you most”, but have decided for “not that I love you best”.

* Line 4: I had considered “Once past your prime, you’re gone”, “Once past your prime and gone”, “Once time is up, you’re gone”, “Once your prime is spent”, “Just that once you’re spent”, “Just that you once gone” and “Only once you’re gone”, but have decided for “Just that once you’re gone”. I had considered the stronger rhyme “blow” (e.g., “no other flower will blow”), but have decided for the weaker “follow” so as to end the line (and the poem) on a falling tune suggestive of a passive acceptance of nature. I have chosen “follow” also for it ambiguity. In this context, “follow”, which can mean either and both of (a) to come after (follow) in sequence of time無花再開and (b) to go after (follow) as an admirer再無花可賞, aptly translates再無花.
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李白<望廬山瀑布>

文章BW Book Worm » 週五 12月 03, 2010 1:59 am

李白<望廬山瀑布>
Li Bai (701-762): View of a Waterfall at Mount Lushan

1 Sunlit, the Incense Summit, aglow in smoke and steam;
2 To afar, like a shimmering curtain, a waterfall hangs upstream:
3 Flowing, flying, fluttering ~ plunging three thousand feet,
4 As if ‘twere the Silver River, falling from heaven supreme.

Translated 5th August 2009 (revised 6.8.09: 7.8.09; 2.9.09; 3.9.09; 11.8.10)

李白 望廬山瀑布

1 日照香爐生紫煙
2 遙看瀑布掛前川
3 飛流直下三千尺
4 疑是銀河落九天

Notes:

* This English rendition is in hexameter (6 metrical feet) while the original is in 7-character lines. The rhyme scheme is AABA as in the original.

* Line 1: I originally began the line “Sunlit is the …” but have now decided to delete the word “is” for a comma. The word “Summit” is added to translate 香爐 “incense burner” as the poem clearly refers to a mountain “peak/summit” and not an “incense burner”. I could have used “censer” or “thurible” to qualify the “peak/summit”, but have decided against them as they yield the image of an “incense burner” being carried and not stationary, hence, “Incense Summit” (and omitting “Burner” so as to reduce the extra “stress” or “beat”). I have also omitted translating 生 “generating” which can be taken to be implied in “aglow” which latter subtly suggests 紫 “purplish” or “reddish”.

* Line 2: I have added the simile of “curtain” which, though not literally in the original, is in fact most subtly suggested in the word 布 “cloth” in 瀑布 “waterfall” or “cataract”, which word followed by 掛 “hangs”, produces a vivid picture of “a piece of cloth hanging”, hence, “curtain … hangs”. What I have added is only the “white” colour, and I have decided for “shimmering curtain” rather than “hoar-silk/white silk/glittering curtain”. I had given serious thought to the softer word “drape”, e.g. “hoar-silk/glittering/shimmering drape” or “drape that glitters” or “drape of hoar-silk”, but have decided for the double syllable word “curtain”.

* Line 3: I had considered the alliterative “Flowing, flushing, flying”, the rhyming “Flushing, rushing, gushing” and the assonant “Flowing, rolling(, flying)”, but have now decided for “Flowing, flying, fluttering”.

* Line 4: I have translated 銀河 “Milky Way” literally as “Silver River”. As 九天 the “ninth heaven”, like the “seventh heaven” or “seventh of heavens” in the West, is the highest level of the heavens, I have abandoned both “nine” and “seven” and embraced “heaven supreme”. I had used “As if the Silver River, were falling …”, but have now decided for “As if ‘twere the Silver River, falling …”.
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朱慶餘 <近試上張(籍)水部>

文章BW Book Worm » 週五 12月 03, 2010 2:00 am

朱慶餘 <近試上張(籍)水部>
Zhu Qingyu (early 800’s): Submitted to Waterworks Minister Zhang (Ji) as the Imperial Examinations Approach

1 Last night in their nuptial chamber, red candles burned bright;
2 To the front hall to greet their parents, come morning’s first light.
3 Having done with her make-up, she whispers to her groom,
4 “Are my brows too bold, too light? Are they painted just right?”

Translated 5th December 2009 (revised 7.12.09; 11.1.10; 24.10.10)

朱慶餘: 近試上張(籍)水部

1 洞房昨夜停紅燭
2 待曉堂前拜舅姑
3 妝罷低聲問夫婿
4 畫眉深淺入時無

Notes:-

* This English rendition is in pentameter (5 metrical feet) while the original is in 7-character lines. The rhyme scheme is AABA as in the original.

* Line 1: I had considered “bridal” but have decided for “nuptial”. I have added “bright”, which is not in the original, and have omitted translating 停 which means “brought into and put there and (of course) lit”, hence, “burned (or were) bright”.

* Line 2: Here, 舅 (literally, uncle) and 姑 (literally, aunt) mean father-in-law and mother-in-law. I have translated this as “their parents”, parents to the groom and parents-in-law to the bride, the word “their” here follows from “their nuptial chamber” in line 1. I had considered “at the” but have decided for “come”.

* Line 3: I have omitted translating 問 (ask) which is implied in the question marks in line 4.

* Line 4: I had considered “too dark, too light”, “too bold, too slight” and “too bold, not quite”, but have now decided for “too bold, too light”. I had considered “aright” and “all right”, but have decided for “just right”.
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李紳 <憫農 其二>

文章BW Book Worm » 週五 12月 03, 2010 2:01 am

李紳 <憫農 其二>

Li Shen (772-846): Two Airs on the Peasant: II

1 He heaves his hoe in the rice-field, under the noonday sun,
2 Onto the soil of the rice-field, his streaming sweat-beads run.
3 Ah, do you, or don’t you know it? that bowl of rice we eat --
4 Each grain, each ev’ry granule, is all for his hard work done.

Translated 17th March 2010 (revised 18.3.10; 22.3.10; 24.3.10; 25.3.10; 30.3.10; 17.8.10)

李紳: 憫農(古風)兩首 其二

1 鋤禾日當午
2 汗滴禾下土
3 誰知盤中飧
4 粒粒皆辛苦

Notes:

* This English rendition is in hexameter (6 metrical feet) while the original is in 5-character lines. The rhyme scheme is AABA as in the original.

* Line 1: I have added the stressed “heaves” to strengthen the “he-ho” sound which signifies strenuous work.

* Line 2: I had considered “soggy/sodden rice-field”, but have decided for the more literal “soil of the rice-field”. I have, for the rhyme, used “run” instead of the literal “drip” to translate 滴 and have added “streaming” to bring out the strenuous nature of the toil.

* Line 3: I have taken 誰知 not to mean “who knows” but to mean “do you know” or, better, “don’t you know” which latter is close to須知 (meaning “you/we ought to know” or “you’d/we’d better know” or “the truth is”) subtly implied/suggested in 誰知.. For 盤中飧 I have used “bowl of rice” instead of the literal “plate of food” so as to follow through the idea of “rice” in lines 1 and 2, rice being the staple food for most Chinese. I have used “we” in “we eat” (instead of “you” following “do you … don’t you”) in order to make clear that the poem is not about any particular bowl of rice or plate of food, but about rice and food in general.

* Line 4: “Each” and “each” should be read unstressed.
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