15 October 2010

李白 Li Bai: 清平調 3首 其3 To the Qing and Ping Tune (for Lady Yang), 3 of 3

This is the 3rd and last of the 3 verses Li Bai wrote impromptu in honour of the peony flower and Lady 貴妃 Yang Yuhuan 楊玉環 following the 1st and 2nd posted here this year in June and August respectively. Here we go:-

Li Bai (701-762): To the Qing and Ping Tune (for Lady Yang), 3 of 3

1 Famed peony, fairest lady----in love requited, in bliss,
2 With the monarch’s eyes, all smiles, to find you, never miss.
3 North of the Agar Pavilion, by the railing together you lean,
4 Zephyr’s moods melancholic, to dispel, disperse, dismiss.

Translated by Andrew W.F. Wong (Huang Hongfa) 譯者: 黄宏發
7th April 2010 (revised 8.4.10; 15.10.10)
Translated from the original - 李白: 清平調 3首 其3

1 名花傾國兩相歡
2 長得君王帶笑看
3 解釋春風無限恨
4 沈香亭北倚闌干


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

* Line 1: To follow from line 1 of the 2nd verse in this series of three, I have identified the “flower” 花 as “peony” 牡丹 or 芍藥 which is known as the flower of the rich and the noble 富貴花. 傾國 does not literally mean “ruins the country, nation, kingdom, or empire” but alludes to “a ravishingly beautiful lady”, hence, “fairest lady”. I have translated 兩相歡 as “(the beautiful lady , likened to the queen of all flowers, is) in love, requited (by the monarch, and are both) in bliss”, and not as “(the monarch) takes pleasure in both the famous flower and the beautiful lady”.

* Lines 3 and 4: I have reversed the order of lines 3 and 4.

* Line 3: “Agar”, short for “agarwood” or “aloeswood”, “eaglewood”, etc., is the incense produced in aquilaria trees. In the second half of the line, I have added “together” which is not in the original, so as to amplify my interpretation of “the monarch and the lady both in love, in bliss” in line 1 and “the monarch and the lady in constant companionship” in line 2.

* Line 4: 解釋 here means “to liberate from”, and does not mean “to explain”. This explains why I have not adopted 解識 which being the alternative version.


Frank said...

hi, andrew,

an admirable rendition.

just nit-picking, again. i think:

a. lines 3 and 4 should not be reversed if possible.

b. origin poem line 3, the '無限' in '無限恨' is not apparently translated.

(as a fellow translator, i can appreciate at least partially your difficulties in the light of the extremely stringent scholastic style you set for yourself a la the AABA rhyme scheme and closest metrical feet to the origin.) allow me to suggest the following feeble attempt for your consideration, using in the main your rendition:

李白: 清平調三首 其三

1 名花傾國兩相歡
2 長得君王帶笑看
3 解釋春風無限恨
4 沈香亭北倚闌干

Li Bai (701-762): 3rd of Three Verses to the Qing and Ping Tunes (for Lady Yang)
1 Famed Peony, fairest Lady -- admiring each other are seen.
2 The monarch’s eyes, all smiles, always find you both, it seems.
3 Zephyr’s endless moods melancholic, to dispel and dismiss,
4 North of the Agar Pavilion, by the railing together you lean.

kindly ignore this posting if you find it below par or not to your liking.


Andrew W.F. Wong 黃宏發 said...

Dear Frank, On your (a) reversing of lines, a fair point, but I have done that before, e.g. May 2010 in Yue Fei's , I used "By the railing I stand,/ Showers have stopped,/ I bristle with wrath, my hair uncaging//" to translate "怒髮衝冠/ 憑欄處/ 瀟瀟雨歇" and December 2009 in Bai Juyi's , I rendered "晚來天欲雪/ 能飲一杯無" as "Care for a cup of the good stuff, I say,/ Snow in the evening sky is forming//". Depending on the context, I may have to do it from time to time. On your (b) "無限", another fair point, though I would render it as "infinite" rather than your "endless". If it is agreed that these are just "moods" which cannot be "endless/unending", just "moods of infinite sadness", then "moods melancholic" might suffice. Now on your attempted revision of my rendition, I only wish to make the point that your interpretation of lines 1 and 2, though shared by many, is different from mine. I would rather take 两相歡 in line 1 to mean the emperor and Lady Yang in love, the "Famed peony" being just a metaphor for the "fairest lady", hence, in line 2, only the lady is the object of the emperor 帶笑看 "eyes, all smiles". Best wishes, Andrew Wong.

Frank said...

hi, andrew,

2 wongs do not make 1 right. (reversing the order of the original lines in your other 2 renditions does not make this a rightful practice.)

haha! just joking! of course, you're perfectly entitled to your views (as i, mine). you can do whatever you fell comfortable with your renditions.

as one of your critical friends, am actually glad that, probably out of necessity, you're now moving towards more space and freedom --from your highly scholastic but strait-jacket style of translating classical chinese poems. keep up the good work in helping to bridge the wide cultural gulf between the east and the west. and thanks.


馬旖 said...

IS VERY GOOD..............................