01 March 2010

贾島 Jia Dao: 尋隱者不遇 Visiting the Absent Hermit

The following translation (of a poem which I very much love) was done some 2 years ago and is now posted for the first time. I hope my English rendition is equally lovable.

Jia Dao (779—843): Visiting the Absent Hermit

1  Beneath the pine-trees, I ask of a lad I see.
2  Away is the master gathering herbs, says he,
3  Up in this mountain, but where? I cannot tell,
4  For there the clouds are deep and dense as be.

Translated by Andrew W.F. Wong (Huang Hongfa)       譯者: 黃宏發
17 March 2008 (revised 19.3.08; 7.7.08; 17.7.08; 19.7.08; 21.11.08; 25.11.08; 26.11.08)
Translated from the original - 賈島: 尋隱者不遇

1  松下問童子
2  言師採藥去
3  只在此山中
4  雲深不知處

* This English rendition is in pentameter (5 metrical feet) to emulate the original 5-character lines. The rhyme scheme in the Chinese original is XAXA. My rendition changes it to the more demanding AAXA.
* Line 1: I have chosen “a lad” instead of “the lad” as the Chinese original merely says 童子(boy) which I take to mean a boy the poet happens to see there who, on reply, turns out to be the pupil/apprentice.
* Line 2: I have chosen “the master” instead of “my master”.
* Lines 3 and 4: I have moved the “know not” or “cannot tell” idea from line 4 of the original to line 3 in this English rendition.