20 March 2009

崔護 Cui Hu: 題都城南莊 At a Homestead South of the Capital City

What follows is my latest translation. I hope you will enjoy it.

Cui Hu (circa 796): At a Homestead South of the Capital City/Reminiscence

1 ‘Twas today, at this doorway, a year ago,
2 Her face and peach-blows re-doubly aglow.
3 Her face is gone now, whereto unknown, yet
4 Peach-blows beam on as spring-winds flow.

Translated by Andrew W.F. Wong (Huang Hongfa)          譯者: 黃宏發
11th March 2009 (revised 12.3.09; 16.3.09; 19.3.09)
Translated from the original - 崔護: 題都城南莊/昔所見

1 去年今日此門中
2 人面桃花相映紅
3 人面不知(祇今)何處去
4 桃花依舊笑春風

Notes:
* The original is in 7-character lines. This English rendition is in tetrameter (4 metrical feet). The rhyme scheme is AAXA as in the original.
* Line 1: I had considered “portal”, “door”, “gate”, “front-door”, “doorstep”, “threshold”, “gateway”, etc. but have now decided for “doorway” to rhyme internally with “today”.
* Lines 2 and 3: I had considered “A/The face” for line 2 and “That face” for line 3 to retain the ambiguity of the original, but have decided for “Her face” to make the two lines personal (and a face by the peach flowers must belong to a young lady), yet not as personal as “Your face”.
* Lines 2 and 4: I had used “peach-blooms” but have now decided for “peach-blows”
* Line 2: I have interpreted 相 to mean both 共 “together”, “in unison”, etc. and 交互 “at each other/one another”, “mutual”, “reciprocal”, etc. and have coined the word “re-doubly” to translate 相映紅 as “re-doubly aglow”. If “re-doubly” is considered odd, an alternative is “redoubled their glow”.
* Line 3: I had used “I know not where” but have now decided for “whereto unknown”.
* Line 4: I had considered “still beam” but have decided for “beam on” to translate 依舊 “as of old”. I have interpreted 笑春風 to mean “smile/beam in the spring winds” and not “to laugh at the spring winds”. I have decided to use “flow”, instead of “blow”, to speak of the gentle spring winds.


8 comments:

Andrew W.F. Wong (Huang Hongfa) 黄宏發 said...

I have now decided to abandon the newly coined word "re-doubly" in line 2. The poem now reads:-

1 'Twas today, at this doorway, a year ago,
2 Her face and peach-blows, redoubling, aglow.
3 Her face is gone now, whereto unknown, yet
4 Peach-blows beam on, as spring-winds flow.

The note to line 2 is now revised as follows:-

* Line 2: I have interpreted 相 to mean both 共 “together”, “in unison”, etc. and 交互 “at each other/one another”, "mutual", “reciprocal”, etc. and have used the word “redouble” in the sense of “to duplicate by reflection” (Oxford English Dictionary) to translate 相映紅 as “, redoubling, aglow”. I had considered coining a word “re-doubly” for the task (hence “re-doubly aglow”) but have now decided against it. Other words considered but discarded include “rebound”, “reflect”, “return”, etc.

Andrew W.F. Wong.

Frank said...

hi, andrew,
yes, i think it's a good idea to abandon coining new words even under poetic licence. (let's leave this to the avante-garde daredevils or famed literary giants!) how's this one?

Brushing a Poem on the Wall of a Southern Villa at the Capital Cui Hu (Tang)
Last year beyond these doors the same day,
On blushed face fine peach-blossoms portray'd.
Today, where is my lady fair, please?
Peach-blossoms are smil'ng still in Spring breeze!

Andrew W.F. Wong (Huang Hongfa) 黄宏發 said...

Dear Frank,

I have been attempting to "polish" your rendition for the past hour without success, probably because I am obsessed by my own rendition. However, a few points for your consideration:
(1) For 中, "beyond" is not an appropriate translation.
(2) Line 3 is too loose. You can consider along the lines of "Today, you're gone, but where? oh, please!"

Thank you for agreeing with me on the question of coining new words. I have re-examined my line 2 and have decided to revise it as "Her face and peach-blows redoubling their glow".

Best wishes, Andrew Wong.

Frank said...

hi, andrew,

thanks for a most fruitful exchange and i agree with you entirely that the translation should be as close to the original as possible.

thanks to your help, i've decided to revise it as follows:

《题都城南庄》 唐·崔护
去年今日此门中,
人面桃花相映红。
人面不知何处去,
桃花依旧笑春风。

Brushing a Poem on the Wall of a Southern Villa at the Capital Cui Hu (Tang)
Last year in this villa on the same day,
On blushed face the fine peach-blossoms portray'd.
Today, O you're gone, my Fair, but where, please?
Peach-blossoms are still smiling in Spring breeze!

Frank said...

hi, andrew,

in order to translate line 1 of the original poem more closely, i've now decided to revise my rendition as follows. hope you would approve.

《题都城南庄》 唐·崔护
去年今日此门中,
人面桃花相映红。
人面不知何处去,
桃花依旧笑春风。

Brushing a Poem on the Wall of a Southern Villa at the Capital Cui Hu (Tang)
Last year at this door on this very day,
On blushed face the fine peach-blossoms portray'd.
Today, O you're gone, my Fair, but where, please?
Peach-blossoms are still smiling in th' Spring breeze!

frank

Andrew W.F. Wong 黃宏發 said...

On email, I have received from Serge Melnyk a request for permission to use my rendition of this poem in his podcast, which I hereby gladly give. However, my rendition had undergone 2 minor revisions (from "redoubly aglow" to "redoubling, aglow" to "redoubliong their glow"). I therefore take this opportunity to consolidate the revisions and the note to line 2 (together with my decision to delete all hyphens and most of the within-line commas, and the correction of "o" as "不" in line 3 of the Chinese original) so that Serge can use my current version:-

崔護: 題都城南莊(昔所見)
Cui Hu (circa 796): At a Homestead South of the Capital City (Reminiscence)

1 去年今日此門中
2 人面桃花相映紅
3 人面不知(祇今)何處去
4 桃花依舊笑春風

1 ‘Twas today at this doorway a year ago,
2 Her face and peach blows re-doubling their aglow.
3 Her face is gone now, whereto unknown, yet
4 Peach blows beam on as spring winds flow.

translated by Andrew W.F. Wong (Huang Hongfa) 譯者: 黃宏發
11th March 2009 (revised 12.3.09; 16.3.09; 19.3.09)

Notes:
* The original is in 7-character lines. This English rendition is in tetrameter (4 metrical feet). The rhyme scheme is AABA as in the original.
* Line 1: I had considered “portal”, “door”, “gate”, “front-door”, “doorstep”, “threshold”, “gateway”, etc. but have now decided for “doorway” to rhyme internally with “today”.
* Lines 2 and 3: I had considered “A/The face” for line 2 and “That face” for line 3 to retain the ambiguity of the original, but have decided for “Her face” to make the two lines personal (and a face by the peach flowers must belong to a young lady), yet not as personal as “Your face”.
* Lines 2 and 4: I had used “peach-blooms” but have now decided for “peach blows”
* Line 2: I have interpreted 相 to mean both 共 “together”, “in unison”, etc. and 交互 “at each other/one another”, “mutual”, “reciprocal”, etc. and have coined the word “re-doubly” to translate 相映紅 as “re-doubly aglow”. If “re-doubly” is considered odd, an alternative is “redoubled their glow”. I have now decided for "redoubling their glow".
* Line 3: I had used “I know not where” but have now decided for “whereto unknown”.
* Line 4: I had considered “still beam” but have decided for “beam on” to translate 依舊 “as of old”. I have interpreted 笑春風 to mean “smile/beam in the spring winds” and not “to laugh at the spring winds”. I have decided to use “flow”, instead of “blow”, to speak of the gentle spring winds.

lulu said...

sounds better if:

3 Her face is gone now, to no avail

Andrew W.F. Wong 黃宏發 said...

I thank [lulu] for her comment. Her "to no avail" certainly sounds better, but unfortunately does not translate 不知何處去. A phrase similar to but, in my view, better than "to no avail" would be "I seek in vain" or "in vain I search". But I would rather stick to my "whereto unknown" which translates the line where "is gone now" cannot, and which conveys the same sense of disappointment with "whereto" read correctly with the stress on "-to".

Thanks to [lulu], I have taken a further look at my original rendition and subsequent revisions and have decided to further revise: (1) line 2 by replacing "redoubling" with "redoubled" (the word "aglow" in my comment of 21.2.11 above was a typographical error and should read "glow"), and (2) line 4 by adding the definite article "The" before "peach blows". The poem now reads:
1 'Twas today at this doorway, a year ago,
2 Her face and peach blows redoubled their glow.
3 Her face is gone now whereto unknown, yet
4 The peach blows beam on, as spring winds flow.