25 January 2011

陳沆: 一字詩 Chen Hang: An 'A' Poem

Happy New Year! Happy 2011! Sorry for the delay in posting this my January piece. Over last Christmas, I was given a task, so to speak, on my other blog (see link) by 2 fellow bloggers who offered their renditions of a "fun" poem by a Qing dynasty poet 陳沆 Chen Hang (1785-1826) which they entitled "The One Lyric" or "The One-word Lyric" as follows:-

tr. 筆非得 25 December 2010
1 One sail, one oar, one fishing boat.
2 One fisherman with one fishing hook,
3 Bending and lifting his head, laughing
4 With the moon and autumn in the river.

tr. frank yue (adapting 筆非得) 26 December 2010
1 One sail, one oar, one fishing boat.
2 One fisherman, one fishing hook,
3 Bending and lifting his head, laughing --
4 On the river, the full moon and autumn afloat.

Whatever the serious, philosophical (Taoist?) side of the poem may be, let us just tend to the fun side for the time being. How do you like the poem? How do you like the renditions? How would you do it? Have fun in the New Year! Here is how I have done it:-

(Qing) Chen Hang (1785-1826): An 'A' Poem


1  (An oar, a sail, a smallish fishing boat,)
    An oar and a sail, a little fishing boat, (26.1.11)
2  (A hook for angling, a fisherman, I note,)
    A fish hook for angling, a fisher folk, I note: (26.1.11)
3  A-dipping, a-lifting, a-laughing no matter what,
4  A river in moonlight, an autumn’s leaves afloat.

Translated by Andrew W.F. Wong (Huang Hongfa)   譯者: 黃宏發
26th December 2010 (revised 21.1.11) (further revised 26.1.11)
Translated from the original - (清)陳沆: 一字詩

1  一帆一槳一漁(扁)舟
2  一個漁翁一釣鈎
3  一俯一仰一場笑
4  一江(輪)明月一江秋

Notes:-
* This English rendition is in pentameter (5 metrical feet) while the original is in 7-character lines. The rhyme scheme is AAXA as is the original.
* Title and whole poem: Literally 一字詩 is “one word poem” but means a poem using repeatedly the word “one”. For my rendition, I have used “A” and “An” instead of “one”, hence, the “An’s” and “A’s” throughout the poem and the title “An ‘A’ Poem”
* Lines 1 and 2: I have changed the order of the items in these two lines into sequences of “from the small to the big” (e.g. “ 槳oar” then “帆sail” in line 1, and “釣鉤 hook for angling” then “渔翁fisherman” in line 2) and “from the particular to the whole” (e.g. “ 槳, 帆oar, sail” then “舟 boat” in line 1).
* Line 1: I have incorporated both the 漁 “fishing” and 扁 “small” versions of the poem into my translation, hence, “smallish fishing boat”. For 槳 I had considered the more logical word of “scull 櫓” which, when we only have one on a boat with a sail, can double as a steering rudder, but dropped the idea. The word 扁 should be pronounced “pian” (“pin” in Cantonese) and not “bian” (“bin” in Cantonese). 扁舟 in Chinese poetry means “a little boat” and not “a flat boat” (pronounced ‘bian”). It can but does not mean “a number of boats rafted together” (扁 being equivalent to 編) and is certainly not a “raft” which is 筏 in Chinese.
* Line 2: I have added “I note” (not present in the original) to make the rhyme, but which links up beautifully every part of the poem.
* Line 3: I have taken 俯仰 not to literally mean “bending the body forward” then “raising/lifting the body upward” but to figuratively mean “dipping the fishing rod” (“a-dipping”) then “lifting the fishing rod” (a-lifting). I had considered “a-flipping” which rhymes best with “a-dipping” but have decided the “dipping-lifting” assonance would suffice. For 一場笑 “a scene of laughter”, I refused to take it to be caused by a good catch. In fact, I was inclined towards the opposite, i.e. for having caught naught, considering the sentiments in line 4 (moon light, autumn). I then decided to use “a-laughing loud and long” but have now decided for “a-laughing, no matter what” which best retains the original ambiguity. I could have written the line as “A dipping, a lifting, a laughter no matter what”, thus keeping all 3 “A’s” in line 3 as an indefinite article in line with the “A’s” in all other lines., but have decided that turning them into an “action” preposition makes line 3 so much more lively and appealing.
* Line 4: I have not incorporated the 輪 version into my translation in which I have rendered 一江明月 as “a river in moon light” and 一江秋 (a river in/of autumn) as “an autumn’s leaves afloat”.

7 comments:

Azurino said...

好多時譯嗰陣都有用到 prefix a-乜乜 嘅字,好聽D?

Andrew W.F. Wong 黃宏發 said...

Dear Azurino, You are so right: an unstressed single syllable prefix "a" followed by a stressed syllable, e.g. "loud", this daDUM sound of the word "aloud" is called an iamb (you must have heard of the iambic pentameter, not to worry over technical terms) and is very pleasing to the ear. But aside from the sound, don't you agree with what I said in my note on line 3 that "a-dipping, a-lifting, a-laughing" has made line 3 so much more lively and appealing? Best wishes, Andrew Wong.

Guo Du 过渡 said...

Where's you been Andrew! I absolutely agree with your treatment of line (3). In fact, I see the fisherman 一俯一仰 to be a day dream of past vicissitudes. In the end, exactly, all mean naught, as you said. The fishing motion is only a metaphor to his "enlightenment". Perhaps I'm interpreting too much into it?

In trying to present the concept of "Qi" in my little story (Qigong Rhapsody 气功狂想曲“ in a reasonably entertaining manner, I ended up with two very different linguistic versions. If you have time to read them . . . Hope you'll find them amusing.

Another new year: Kung Hei Fat Choi Fat Sook!

Guo Du

Andrew W.F. Wong 黃宏發 said...

Now that I am preparing to post this rendition on my other blog on HKEJ 信報網站 tomorrow, I have revised it as follows:
1 An oar and a sail, a little fishing boat,
2 A fish hook for angling, a fisher folk, I note:
3 A-dipping, a-lifting, a-laughing, no matter what,
4 A river in moonlight, an autumn's leaves afloat.
I have effected the revisions on this post itself

Frank said...

hi, andrew,

thanks for a v enjoyable rendition of this 'fun poem'.

and a v happy and healthful lunar new year of the rabbit to all your readers.

may i post herewith my revised rendition that you had so kindly touched up (in your other poetic blog):

The "One-word" Poem Chen Hang
1 One sail and one scull, in one little fishing boat;
2 One hook to himself, one old fisher to devote.
3 One dipping, one flipping, one laughter for his catch --
4 One river in bright moonlight, one Aut'mn's leaves afloat.

frank

Andrew W.F. Wong 黃宏發 said...

Dear Frank, Happy New Year of the Rabbit! On second thought, your rendition may look better if the hyphen in line 1 is deleted and the first part of line 4 revised as "One river bright in moonlight" or "One river lit in moonlight". Best wishes, Andrew Wong.

Frank said...

hi, andrew,

thanks! i like in particular the reflected moonlight now making the river bright in a million shiny moving scales.

here's the revised rendition:

The "One Word" Poem -- Chen Hang
1 One sail and one scull, in one little fishing boat;
2 One hook to himself, one old fisher to devote.
3 One dipping, one flipping, one laughter for his catch --
4 One river bright in moonlight, one Aut'mn's leaves afloat.

frank