18 September 2008

李白 Li Bai: 贈汪倫 To Wang Lun

Below is my rendition of Li Bai's "To Wang Lun" which is a beautiful friendship poem. You will notice that I have discarded the original rendition which was in couplets inconsistent with Tang poetry.

Li Bai (701—762): To Wang Lun

1  A boat I have boarded, Li Bai am I, and I’m all set to go,
2  When suddenly from on shore a din I hear, of stomping and singing I know.
3  The water in the Pool of Peach Blossoms is as deep as a thousand feet,
4  Deep not as the parting sentiments, to me, Wang Lun, you show.

Translated by Andrew W.F. Wong (Huang Hongfa)         譯者: 黃宏發
26 May 2007 (revised 27.5.07; 5.12.07; 13.12.07; 22.2.08)
Translated from the original - 李白: 贈汪倫

1  李白乘舟將欲行
2  忽聞岸上踏歌聲
3  桃花潭水深千尺
4  不及汪倫送我情

* This English rendition is in heptameter (7 metrical feet) to emulate the original 7-character lines. When reading it, I suggest accenting both “all” and set” in line 1 and “Deep” and “not” in line 4. The rhyme scheme is AAXA, more demanding than the original XAXA.
* Line 2: I am prepared to have “stomping and singing” replaced by “tapping and singing” if it can be said that the Chinese people in Tang dynasty, or at least Wang Lun, tap-danced. An alternative is “a dancing songster”, but I am satisfied with “stomping and singing”.
* Line 4: An alternative which I first penned on 26.5.07 is “Deep not as Wang Lun’s affection, your fond/warm adieu I meet”, but it turns the rhyme scheme into AABB which sounds great, but I prefer AAXA as classical Chinese quatrains (4-line verses) follow either AAXA or XAXA with a more or less mandatory "change" in the 3rd line.