05 November 2010

韋應物 Wei Yingwu: 秋夜寄邱員外 Written on an Autumn Night to Squire Qiu

It is now deep in autumn. Most ancient Chinese poets seem to miss their family and friends most in autumn. Wei Yingwu said in the 8th century: "On this crisp autumn night when pine-cones fall, I miss you and am thinking of you. You must still be up, thinking of me too." Though in the last the 20th and this the 21st century, poetry has been replaced by an "I miss you" card or an email "miss U" message, the sentiments remain the same. Why not borrow Wei's poetry?

Wei Yingwu (739-792): Written on an Autumn Night to Squire Qiu

1 My friend, O how I miss you, this autumn night!
2 I stroll, and a rhyme I roll -- of the clime now chilly,
3 Of the drop, dropping of pine-cones in the empty mountain,
4 And of you, my dear recluse, still up, willy-nilly.

Translated by Andrew W.F. Wong (Huang Hongfa)       譯者: 黄宏發
23rd June 2009 (25.6.09; 26.6.09; 27.10.10; 5 11 10)
Translated from the original - 韋應物: 秋夜寄邱員外

1 懷君屬秋夜
2 散步詠涼天
3 空山松子落
4 幽人應未眠

Notes:
* This English rendition is in pentameter (5 metrical feet) to emulate the 5-character lines of the original. The rhyme scheme is ABCB as in the original.
* Title: The addressee is a friend of the poet’s named Qiu Dan 邱丹 or Qiu Ershier 邱二十二 (probably means the 22nd son). Qiu was in retirement when Wei wrote the poem, and 員外 could either meant his former rank in officialdom 員外郎 or simply a country squire, and I have adopted the latter for the title.
* Lines 2, 3 and 4: I have repeated the word “of” in all 3 lines so as to treat everything in the 3 lines to be the content of the “rhyme (verse or poem)” rolling from the poet’s mouth while strolling. An alternative treatment, probably more faithful, is as follows:-
1 My friend, oh how I miss you, this autumn night!
2 I stroll, and a rhyme I roll of the air turned crispy.**
3 In the fall of pine-seeds, pine-cones in the empty hills,
4 I hope, my dear recluse, you’re still up, not sleepy.**
**The “crispy” (line 2) “not sleepy” (line 4) rhyme may not be perfect but is, I hope, acceptable as a para-rhyme or off rhyme.
* Line 2: I had considered “A rhyme I roll as I stroll”, then used “As I stroll, a rhyme I roll …” but have now decided for “I stroll, and a rhyme I roll …”.
* Line 3: I had originally written “Of the drop and plop of pine-cones …”, but have found the word “plop” (being a verb for dropping into water) less than satisfactory and have now decided for “Of the drop, dropping of pine-cones …”. I have translated 松子 not as “pine-seeds” but as a synecdoche for “pine-cones”. By repeating “drop” and by turning the second “drop” into the participle “dropping”, I hope to create the autumn sound of pine-cones falling.
* Line 4: I have used “still up” to translate 未眠. I am still considering whether or not “willy-nilly”, which I need for the rhyme, is a mistaken interpretation of or adds too much to 應 in the original.

7 comments:

Frank said...

hi, andrew,

thank you for your rendition.

i must say i don't understand why you chose to do your lines 2 and 3 as you did: it seems you were somewhat 'stammering' in the process and is this 'round-about description' necessary?

may i please post a 'simpler' alternative rendition (in AABB rhyme and syllabic verse) for your comments.

An Autumn Night Message to Squire Qiu Wei Yingwu (739-792)
I stroll in the cool night of Autumn hue,
Reciting poems and thinking of you.
In the still mountain I hear pine-cones fall.
It seems you, too, are not sleepy at all.

frank

Frank said...

hi, andrew,

line 4 of my rendition above missed the 幽 in 幽人. i would like to revise this as follows:

'It seems m'hermit friend isn't sleepy at all.'

frank

Frank said...

hi, andrew,

on reconsideration, as the poet is writing to his hermit friend direct, i should like to revise my line 4 as folllows:

'And you, m'recluse, shouldn't be sleepy at all.'

frank

Andrew W.F. Wong 黃宏發 said...

Dear Frank, I think your rendition is simply beautiful and beautifully simple. I do like it. So don't bother to include hermit/recluse, 幽人 is simply you. I would however suggest you revise your line 4 to read: "I hope you too are not sleepy at all" or "I hope, like me, you're not sleepy at all". Andrew Wong.

Frank said...

hi, andrew,

you're simply too kind. thanks!

now, my final rendition should be as follows:

秋夜寄邱員外 韋應物

1 懷君屬秋夜
2 散步詠涼天
3 空山松子落
4 幽人應未眠

An Autumn Night Message to Squire Qiu
Wei Yingwu (739-792)
I stroll in the cool night of Autumn hue,
Reciting poems and thinking of you.
In the still mountain I hear pine-cones fall.
I hope, like me, you're not sleepy at all.

frank

Andrew W.F. Wong 黃宏發 said...

Dear Frank, Your prosody is that of syllabic verse with 10 syllables to a line. As a result, you have added "I hear" in your line 3. You can delete "I hear" by simply changing "still mountain" into "the void of the mountain", thus turning your prosody into accentual-syllabic verse and , in this case, iambic (largely) tetrameter (4 feet). May I suggest:-
1 I stroll in the cool night of autumn hue,
*dadum/dadadum/dadadum/dadum
2 Reciting poems and thinking of you.
*dadum/dadum/dadadum/dadadum
3 In the void of the mountain, pine-cones fall,
*dadadum/dadadum/dadum/dadum
4 I hope you, too, are not sleepy at all.
*dadum/dadum/dadadum/dadum
For your consideration, please.
Andrew Wong.

Frank said...

hi, andrew,

thanks v much!

i love it.

frank