28 April 2009

劉禹錫 Liu Yuxi: 竹枝詞 2首 其1 Song of Bamboo Twigs 1 of 2 (1- Green, O green is the willow...)

Here is another love-song from another great Tang master. Hope you enjoy it.

Liu Yuxi (772-842): Song of Bamboo Twigs 1 of 2 (1- Green. O green is the willow...)

1 Green, O green is the willow, placid, peaceful the flow,
2 Hark and I hear on the river, songs from my love, my beau.
3 To the east, the sun is up, to the west, drizzles persist;
4 Though they say the sun is naught, to me, the sun is aglow.

Translated by Andrew W.F. Wong (Huang Hongfa)        譯者: 黄宏發
30th October 2008 (revised 3.11.08; 5.11.08; 17.11.08; 16.12.08; 25.2.09; 28.4.09)
Translated from the original - 劉禹錫: 竹枝詞 2首 其1 (1- 楊柳青青...)

1 楊柳青青江水平
2 聞郎江上唱歌聲
3 東邊日出西邊雨
4 道是無晴卻有晴

Notes:-

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

* Line 1: I had considered “Green, serene” but have decided that “Green, O green” is better for being more faithful to the original.

* Line 2: Following “love”, the word “beau” should be taken to mean lover or suitor only, and not dandy or fop.

* Line 4: The main difficulty in this line is that in Chinese, 晴 (meaning sunny) and 情 (meaning love, affection) have the same sound, thus creating, with 無 (no/not) and 有 (have/is), a double meaning of 無晴-有晴 and 無情-有情. I think my rendition has covered it well, particularly having written “songs from my love, my beau” in line 2. If “to me, the sun is aglow” is considered too subtle, an excellent alternative is “for me, my sun is aglow”

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4 comments:

Travel Lok said...

For us not schooled in Chinese literature and poetry, I prefer the alternative you suggest in Line 4 - "for me, my love is aglow", which more quickly evokes the romantic nature of this poem.

fish said...

Dear Uncle Fat,

Here's my "sandy-gall" attempt based on your great translation:

Green is the willow, placid the flow;
Over the river come songs from my beau;
The east is fine, the west in drizzles;
Ye or nay, the glow flickers so.

Must be terrible, I know. Hope you wouldn't mind.

Best regards,
Fish

Andrew W.F. Wong 黃宏發 said...

Dear Travel Lok, Thank you. You have made up my mind for me. It will be "for me my love is aglow" then.

Dear fish, I think by "sandy-gall" 沙膽 you mean "bold/brave". Yours is an excellent attempt, but the last ,line is a bit too weak.

Andrew W.F. Wong 黃宏發 said...

Dear Fish, I just happen to re-visit this poem and find that I should have suggested to you an alternative line 4 as "Say aye or no, the glow glows so". Apologies.