03 May 2010

岳飛 Yue Fei: 滿江紅 Man Jiang Hong (The River All Red)

The following is my rendition of Yue Fei's "Man Jiang Hong" (The River All Red), the first time I post on my blog a 詞 (ci, i.e. lyrics to a tune) or, more descriptively, 長短句 (long and short lines). Hope you enjoy it.

Yue Fei (1103-1141): To the Tune of “Man Jiang Hong” (The River All Red)

1    By the railing I stand,
2    Showers have stopped,
3    I bristle with wrath, my hair uncaging.
4    My eyes towards the sky,
5    To arms! Long I cry,
6    To war, for a heavenly cause! I’m raging.
7    My decade of deeds, as dust I deem, short of the final victory,
8    O’er thousands of miles, day or night, been in battle engaging.
9    So take it to heart, get set!
10  Lest, in vain, we’ll regret,
11  Turned grey, our youthful heads, on aging.

12  Held captive still, our sovereigns,
13  Unavenged, this burning shame;
14  When? Why now is the hour
15  To burn out our vengeful flame.
16  O charge, you columns of chariots!
17  Crash that gap at Helan-Shan! Crush it in heaven’s name!
18  In hunger we eat their body, in thirst, drink their blood!
19  We’ll so boast of our bravery, as if them tartars were game.
20  All over again, in rally we stand:
21  Our homeland of old, to recapture,
22  Our emperor, “All hail!” to acclaim.

Translated by Andrew W.F. Wong (Huang Hongfa) 譯者: 黃宏發
11th September 2009 (revised 13.9.09; 15.9.09; 17.9.09: 18.9.09; 23.9.09; 24.9.09; 15.10.09; 16.10.09; 19.10.09; 4.11.09; 16.12.09; 9.3.10)
Translated from the original - 岳飛: 寄調 滿江紅

1    怒髮衝冠
2    憑闌處
3    瀟瀟雨歇
4    抬望眼
5    仰天長嘯
6    壯懷激烈
7    三十功名塵與土
8    八千里路雲和月
9    莫等閒
10  白了少年頭
11  空悲切

12  靖康恥
13  猶未雪
14  臣子恨
15  何時滅
16  駕長車
17  踏破賀蘭山缺
18  壯志饑餐胡虜肉
19  笑談渴飲匈奴血
20  待從頭
21  收拾舊山河
22  朝天阙

Notes:
* The original poem is in 2 stanzas of 11 lines each, with one common rhyme at lines 3, 6, 8, 11, then 13, 15, 17, 19, 22. I have taken this to mean that there are 9 sentences in the poem with 4 in the first stanza and 5 in the second. I have been unable to find a common rhyme for my English rendition and have decided to use an “-aging” rhyme in stanza 1 and an “-ame/aim” rhyme in stanza 2. I have also been unable to translate the lines correspondingly, and have changed the order where necessary but only within the respective sentences.
* Lines 1, 2 and 3 (being one sentence): Line 3 translates the original line 1, lines 1 and 2 are lines 2 and 3 in the original. In line 3, I have omitted translating 冠 “hat/helmet/headgear” and have simply rendered it as “my hair uncaging”.
* Lines 4, 5 and 6 (being one sentence): I have moved 仰天 “towards the sky” from the original line 5 to merge with 抬望眼 “raise my eyes to” in line 4 as “My eyes towards the sky”. I have added “To arms” in line 5 and “To war” in line 6 as the contents of the “long cry” 長嘯 to explain the making of this war poem. I had originally translated line 6 loosely as “’Tis a war for a heavenly cause we are waging”, but have now decided for “To war, for a heavenly cause! I am raging”. In either case, I have omitted translating 懷 “bosom/chest” or “heart/mind” which is implied in “for a heavenly cause”.
* Line 7: I have taken 三十 to mean “thirty odd years of age”, the poet must have been in the army for some 10 years, hence, “decade”. I have added “short of the final victory” to explain why the poet deemed his “deeds/feats/victories” as “dust/trifles”.
* Line 8: I have used “thousands of miles” to translate 八千里 “8,000 li” being only 2,400 miles. I have added “been in battle engaging” to make plain that the poet was in the army and at war.
* Lines 9, 10 and 11 (being one sentence): In line 9, I have taken 莫等閒 to mean 莫等閒視之 “don’t take it lightly” or “take it seriously”, hence, “take it to heart”. Line 11 translates the original line 10, and line 10, the original line 11.
* Lines 12 and 13 (being one sentence): “Held captive still, our sovereigns” in line 12 is not a literal translation of 靖康 “Jing Kang” which is the name of a period, but explains the history of the end of the North Song 北宋 dynasty with the
emperor 欽宗 Qin Zong and his father, the abdicated 徽宗 Hui Zong, both captured in the 2nd year of Jing Kang, hence, “sovereigns (in plural)” I have moved 恥 “shame” from the original line 12 to line13 and 猶 “still” from the original line 13 to line 12.
* Lines 14 and 15 (being one sentence): I have scrambled these 2 lines. The original line 15 何時滅 is taken to be a rhetorical question and translated as “When? why now is the hour!” in line 14 and “To burn out” in line 15. The original line 14 臣子恨 is translated as “our (臣generals’ and officials’, 子 soldiers’ and subjects’) vengeful flame” in line 15.
* Lines 12 to 22 (the second stanza): I am grateful to Xu Yuan-zhong for his “burning shame(line 13) and vengeful flame(line 15)” rhyme in his rendition of the same poem, pp. 470-473, “Bilingual Edition of 300 Song Lyrics”, Beijing, Higher Education Press, 2004 which has encouraged me to follow the rhyme through the entire second stanza, thus “name(17)-game(19)-acclaim(22)”.
* Line 17: I have added “in heaven’s name” to continue the “-ame/aim” rhyme and to further justify the war.
* Lines 18 and 19 (being one sentence): I have scrambled the 2 lines. First, I have put “hunger, eat, body” (line 18) and “thirst, drink, blood” (line 19) both into line 18. Second, I have scrambled 胡虜 “the Hu people” (line 18) and 匈奴 “the Hun people” (line 19)---虜 and 奴 being derogatory words for people---into line 19 as simply “them tartars”, with the word “them” signifying enmity (us and them) and the word “tartars” in lower case to convey the derogatory sense. Third, I have merged 壯志 (line 18) and 笑談 (line 19) into line 19 as “boast of our bravery”. I have chosen “boast” (I have rejected “brag”) to translate 笑談 and added “as if … were game” 獵物 to make clear my interpretation that the poet’s soldiers, though full of hatred (see “them tartars”), may not really be cannibals.
* Line 20: I take 待 to mean “ready/set/about to”, not “wait”, and 從頭 to mean “again/afresh”, not “begin/to or from the beginning”, hence, “All over again, in rally we stand”.
* Line 21: 收拾 is taken to mean “recapture/recover/restore/re-claim”, not “tidy up/reclaim”. I have translated 舊山河 as “homeland of old”
* Line 22: 朝天阙 “towards the heavenly (imperial palace) gate” is rendered in very concrete terms originally as “Long live the emperor! to acclaim”, now as “Our emperor, ‘All hail!’ to acclaim”.

9 comments:

Frank said...

bravo, andrew!

thanks for yet another fine translation of the great patriot yue fei's famed song ci (also one of my favourites, and of course the favourite of many a chinese i would say).

may i raise the following very minor points for your consideration:

(1) 5 仰天長嘯: it seems you somehow omitted translating "仰天" in your "5 To arms! Long I cry,"

(2) 7 三十功名塵與土: in your "7 My decade of deeds, as dust I deem, short of the final victory," you interpreted "30" as "30 odd years of age" whereas all the notations (i've came across so far) say it's 30 years of merit and honour, feasts etc. you also thought "the poet must have been in the army for some 10 years, hence, “decade”". . in fact, yue fei first joined the army at age 19 to become a 敢戰士 ('suicide warrior'?); he led four northern campaigns in may-jul 1134, jul-aug 1136, sept-nov 1136, and in 1140 resp. though there's no clear indication when the poet wrote this ci, it would be logical to assume this was written during one of the campaigns.

Frank said...

(3) 7 三十功名(塵與土) and
8 八千里路(雲和月) 對仗工整, it may be best to show both figures in the translation in balance, though 八千里路 is obviously highly exaggerated expression.

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

Dear Frank,

(1) As explained in my notes on lines 4, 5 and 6, I have moved 仰天 from line 5 to merge with 抬望眼 in line 4 as "My eyes towards the sky".
(2) "At the age of (around) 30" is an interpretation I share with most commentators. Yue Fei was executed at the age of 39. "30 years of victories and feats" is obviously wrong as he could not have joined the army at the age of 9 (and you say 19, most say 20). He must have written it when he was around 30, hence, my "decade of deeds".
(3) Yes, I have sacrificed the perfect parallel 對仗 to bring out my interpretation of the 2 lines as "(年屆三十),視十年戰功如塵土" and "曾日以繼夜(雲和月),轉戰(八)千里路". I have only been able to construct a parallel in "My decade of deeds" and "O'er thousands of miles".

Best wishes, Andrew Wong.

Frank said...

thanks, andrew,

alas! had yue fei left detailed notations (like yours) of his famed ci, translators won't have a hard time playing the deciphering game before doing the translation itself.

regarding 7 三十功名塵與土, i agree with you that interpreting it to mean "30 years of..." is problematic and not logical. but personally i'll take it to mean "30 feasts of..." i.e. yue fei was invincible even with a very small force and he was promoted many times for exemplary bravery
(though also got demoted for following another commander in order to fight).

could i have your critique of the following rendition, if you please.

Tune: All Red The River! Yue Fei (Southern Song)
My helmet is raised in anger by bristling hair
As I stand by the railing here.
The driving rains cease.
I lift up my eyes to see,
Bellowing out a long cry toward the dark'ning skies --
My emotions are fierce and high!
Thirty feasts of honour and merit
Are nothing but dirt and grit.
I travelled eight thousand long miles,
By the clouds and the moon beguiled.
Waiting idly, don't just remain.
Lest youthful heads turn white -- you'll wail in vain!

The shame of Two Emperors' Abduction ne'er vindicated!
O When will loyal courtier's lament be eradicated?
We shall drive long columns of chariots
To crush at Mount Helan Pass the marauding hordes!
I resolve to gorge on Tartar's flesh in hunger,
Drink in thirst the Hun's blood amid talks and laughter!
Let's start anew to free our occupied homeland --
We'll report triumphant to the Imperial Court then.

Frank said...

in the translation above, 'feasts' should of course read 'feats', as in "Thirsty feats of honour and merit."

Andrew Wang Fat Wong 黃宏發 said...

Dear Frank, As I said in my post, this is the first "ci" 詞 I have ever posted. From my rendition of this poem, you will see I have attempted to set some standards so that those who read English only can appreciate the taste and beauty of "ci". I am not saying you ought to follow these standards, after all, I am still experimenting. But please share with me your standards, if you have set any. Best wishes, Andrew Wong.

Frank said...

hi, andrew,

i would just say mine approach is as follows:
1. simple and rather free-spirited (euphemism for amateurish) and not so disciplined (that's why some of my pieces you so kindly polished up were not 100% watertight).

2. i do try to stick to the basic principles of 信雅达 (嚴復語)。and 譯詞如譯詩,盡量保存原文的意美,音美,形美 (許淵冲語)。

3. i deem it acceptable to expand by way of explanation at times the true meaning of a certain term or phrase in the original as long as the minor add-on in translated words do not contradict the poet's intentions.

4. i strive also to make the translations comprehensible, with no or minimal notations, to the english-only readers (and not the bilingual chinese-english speaking ones; they know basically what the original poem is talking about, esp. references to pivotal historical figures or events).
a case in point is my attempt above to show all the 工整對仗 'perfect parallels' in yue fei's 7 三十功名塵與土 and 8 八千里路雲和月 to the foreign reader.

Andrew Wang Fat Wong 黃宏發 said...

Dear Frank, I agree with you 100%. This is what I have been attempting all along with a bit extra added. As for notes, you will recall I said they are written just to remind myself of the progress in the translation of a particular poem. I am considering to publish them as end notes at the end of the book if it ever gets published. Best wishes, Andrew Wong.

Walter said...

Dear Andrew,
Your efforts are indeed so very commendable. I can see that you have a deep love for poetry.
On reading the above I am inspired to also try my hand in rending 滿江紅 into English (free verse). So here it is... any comments you have will be much appreciated.

*A River Turned Red*

The pouring rain abated,
By the battlements I leaned,
Bristling with rage I raised my eyes,
To the heavens I let forth a cry.
Deeds of thirty years just dirt and dust,
Traversing eight thousand li's,
Just fleeting clouds and passing days.
Young man wait no more!
When you're old and grey,
You'll regret if nothing's done!
***
The Empire's humiliation,
Alas! is yet to be avenged,
Our vengeful rage yet pacified.
Let the chariots charge!
Raze to the ground Helan Pass!
These barbarians!
On their blood and flesh feast!
Bare our bravery and make merry!
The Empire we shall reclaim,
Before the Emperor we kneel again.