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

Notes:-
* 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.

2 comments:

LokSchool said...

Beautiful poem and translation. May I suggest though, that, the commas detract from the flow of the verse. Removing then entirely would allow the natural rhythm to emerge to the reader.

Andrew Wang Fat Wong 黃宏發 said...

Dear Lok, I am grateful to you for your kind suggestion, but some commas are still needed. May I have another go? as follows:-
1 A boat I've boarded, Li Bai am I, and all set am I 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, Wang Lun, to me you show.
Best wishes, Andrew Wong.