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Tang poems plus translations

A discussion of the peculiarities of languages and the differences between them.

Tang poems plus translations

Postby M. Henri Day » Sat Oct 15, 2005 9:38 am

In the process of co-editing a book in English and Czech (with one contribution in French) which will be published next year to honour the late great sinologist Professor Jaroslav Průšek on the hundredth anniversary of his birth, I had occassion to translate three Táng poems. As the work is already done, and there is reason to believe that some Agorists will find this matter of interest, I take the liberty of reproducing two of them below, along with my attempts at translation. One of the three, L. Bái's «Thoughts on a quiet night», we have already discussed on the other Agora ; so below I include only the original text. Both autumn and the autumn of our years....

Henri


靜夜思 李白

狀前明月光
疑是地上霜
擧頭望明月
低頭思故鄉



登高 杜甫


風急天高猿嘯哀,渚清沙白鳥飛回。
無邊落木蕭蕭下,不盡長江滾滾來。
萬里悲秋常作客,百年多病獨登臺。
艱難苦恨繁霜鬢,潦倒新停濁酒杯。


«Climbing high» Dù Fǔ

The wind sharp, heaven high, a monkey cries his grief
The islet bare, the sand white, birds wheel 'round.
Without end, tree leaves flutter and whistle down
Without ceasing, the great river surges, rolling forward.

Ten thousand miles through cheerless autumn, always on the move
Old and sick, I mount the look-out alone.
Hardship and bitter regret have frosted my temples
And frustrated, made me abstain from my cup of clouded wine.



寒江雪 柳宗元

千山鳥飛絕
萬 徑人蹤滅
孤舟蓑笠翁
獨釣寒江雪


«Cold river snow» Liǔ Zōngyuán


A thousand hills, but no birds fly
Ten thousand paths, but no human footprints
A lone boat, old man in cape and hat of straw
Fishing alone in the cold river snow.
曾记否,到中流击水,浪遏飞舟?
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Postby yurifink » Mon Oct 24, 2005 3:16 pm

A thousand hills, but no birds fly
Ten thousand paths, but no human footprints
A lone boat, old man in cape and hat of straw
Fishing alone in the cold river snow.


But what is river snow? Maybe it's riverbank snow or pieces of ice in the river?

Regards.
Nothing must be done hastily but killing of fleas
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Postby Flaminius » Tue Oct 25, 2005 1:55 am

I read 寒江雪 as cold river's snow, which is a semantically strained phrase where words knitted together without skewing grammar at all. They concert to create an image for me of a winter field covered with snow. Somewhere in the picture dull, cold water flow. A solitary figure sits in the boat with a fishing rod.

Flam
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Postby yurifink » Tue Oct 25, 2005 6:38 am

flaminius wrote

They concert to create an image for me of a winter field covered with snow.



May be the version ...in the cold river under snow would be more exact: the old man is in the river & snow. It changes the picture: it's snowing...

Regards
Last edited by yurifink on Tue Oct 25, 2005 10:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby M. Henri Day » Tue Oct 25, 2005 8:01 am

Poetry is not an exact science ; the impression, the picture, I get when reading Liu's poem is that of a cold grey day, with snow on the banks of the river and the hills, and the lone fisherman, in his cape and hat - which could either have been of bamboo or of straw (I chose to translate straw as I felt a monosyllabic word worked better here). Thus, while Flam's interpretation that «cold» modifies «river» is certainly correct - the scene is one of a cold river and snow - I chose to translate it more ambiguously, where «cold» can modify both «river» and «snow», which, if my understanding of the Chinese is correct, is not only also possible but also likely (snow, after all, is cold !). In the translation which will appear in the book I have added the definite article before «old man». In any event, thanks for your comments - I hope you enjoyed the poems !...

Henri
曾记否,到中流击水,浪遏飞舟?
M. Henri Day
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Postby yurifink » Tue Oct 25, 2005 10:29 am

M. Henri Day told
Code: Select all
Thus, while Flam's interpretation that «cold» modifies «river» is certainly correct - the scene is one of a cold river and snow - I chose to translate it more ambiguously, where «cold» can modify both «river» and «snow», which, if my understanding of the Chinese is correct, is not only also possible but also likely (snow, after all, is cold !). In the translation which will appear in the book I have added the definite article before «old man». In any event, thanks for your comments - I hope you enjoyed the poems !...



My Old Chinese is too scarce to discuss, so I think you are right. The poems are beautiful, I enjoy them very much

Regards
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