12 July 2011

温庭筠 Wen Tingyun: 更漏子 (1- 玉爐香) Geng Lou Zi (Clepsydra, or Water Clock) (1- A jadite incense burner)

This is my latest translated work. This "long-short lined lyric" poem (or "ci" 詞) by the great late Tang dynasty poet Wen Tingyun is of the autumn sentiments of a woman left at home. Although the cause is not apparent in the poem, one can reasonably imagine the husband at war. Whether or not a war weary poem, it beautifully portrays the love they share or, at least, the deep love of hers. Here is my rendition:-

Wen Tingyun (812-870): Geng Lou Zi (Clepsydra, or Water Clock) - Autumn Sentiments

1    A jadite incense burner,
2    Red wax, in tears, aglow,
3       Lights up, in the hall, a face immersed in autumn sorrow.
4    Her painted eyebrows waned,
5       Her hair no more well groomed,
6      To a long night of a cold bed she’s doomed.

7      The phoenix tree now stripping,
8    From midnight drizzles dripping,
9      They know not her heart, the pains of separation a-ripping.
10  A leaf follows a leaf,
11   A plop echoes a drop,
12  Till morn unslept, onto empty steps they plop.

Translated by Andrew W.F. Wong (Huang Hongfa)     譯者: 黃宏發
7th July 2011 (revised 8.7.11; 12.7.11)
Translated from the original - 温庭筠更漏子 - 秋意

1    玉爐香
2       紅蠟淚
3    偏照畫堂秋思
4       眉翠薄
5       鬢雲殘
6       夜長衾枕寒

7     梧桐樹
8     三更雨
9     不道離情正苦
10   一葉葉
11   一聲聲
12   空階滴到明

Notes:
* In this English rendition, I have used trimeter (3 metrical feet) for the original 3-character lines, hexameter (6 feet) for 6-character lines, and pentameter (5 feet) for 5-character lines. The rhyme scheme is XAAXBB, CCCXDD as in the original. Though not apparent in current Chinese pronunciation, lines 2 and 3 do rhyme as being in the “” rhyme, and lines 7 , 8 and 9 also rhyme as being in the”” rhyme.
* Line 1: I had variously considered “Jadite, the incense burner”, “A jadite burner of incense”, “Incense in a jadite censer” and “Incense from a jadite burner”, but have decided for the plain “A jadite incense burner”.
* Line 2: I had considered “Red candles, in tears, aglow”, but have decided to literally translate the synecdoche in the original Chinese as “wax”. I have added “aglow” which is not in the original line 2 but implied in line 3 so as to rhyme with “sorrow” in line 3.
* Line 3: 偏照 is translated as “lights up” to follow on from “aglow” in line 2. I have interpreted 秋思 not per se as “autumn sentiments” but as those of a lady left at home (probably by her army husband at the frontier) and, hence, rendered as “a face immersed in autumn sorrow”.
* Lines 4 and 5: I had considered but rejected “Her painted brows have waned,/ Her hair by now ungroomed” and “Her painted eyebrows, now waned./ Her hair, no longer (well) groomed”.
* Line 6: 衾枕 is translated as “bed”, instead of the literal “quilt and pillow”, in the interest of a shorter 5-foot line. I have interpreted 衾枕寒 “quilt, pillow cold” to mean “sleeping alone”, hence “a cold bed” suffices. (One can either take “quilt and pillow” in the original as a synecdoche to mean “bed”, or take my “bed” as a synecdoche for the original “quilt and pillow”.) The line should be read as “pyrrhic/ spondee/ pyrrhic/ spondee/ iamb”.
* Lines 7 and 8: I have added “stripping” (line 7)” and “dripping” (line 8), which are not in the original, so as to make a rhyme for lines 7, 8 and 9 and to herald in “a leaf follows a leaf” (line 10) and “a plop echoes a drop” (line 11).
* Line 8: 三更, the third watch of the night (from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m.) is, here, translated as “midnight”. I have added “From” so as to be consistent with “Till morn” in line 12
* Line 9: The word “separation” should be read with both “se-” and “-ra-” accented.
* Line 11: As the word “sound” in the original refers to raindrops, the meaning of the line is translated as “drop” with the onomatopoeic “plop” and the verb “echoes” to translate the repetition of .
* Line 12: I have added “unslept” which, though not in the original, is both reasonably implied and, more important, necessary as (a) the phrase “Till morn unslept” subtly shifts the focus back to the lady protagonist and retains the ambiguity of 空階滴到明 that, at daybreak, drizzles may not stop and may carry on which translations like “till the break of day” or “till the dawn of morn” cannot succeed, and (b) the assonance of the “ep” sound in “unslept” and “steps”

10 comments:

Azurino said...

不俗不俗,但六字的二句英文版可短些。想看你譯歐陽修的蝶戀花。看了許多譯本,均不太滿意,以下為稍滿意版︰Deep, deep the courtyard where he is, so deep
It's veiled by smoke-like willows heap on heap,
By curtain on curtain and screen on screen.
Leaving his saddle and bridle, there he has been merry-making. From my tower he can't be seen.
The third month now, the wind and rain are raging late,
At dusk I bar the gate, But I can't bar in spring.
My tearful eyes ask flowers
but they fail to bring an answer.
I see blossoms fall beyond the swing.

Andrew W.F. Wong 黃宏發 said...

I thank [Azurino] for his compliments. I agree my 2 hexameter (6-foot) lines (translating the 2 6-character lines) appear long. I suggest they be read with a ceasura (pause) mid-line as follows:-

3 Lights up, in the hall,/ a face immersed in autumn sorrow.
9 They know not her heart,/ the pains of separation a-ripping.

I have not attempted a translation of 歐陽修's 蝶戀花. The rendition which [Azurino] likes is, I think, by the great scholar/translator 許淵沖 ("Bilingual Edition 300 Hundred Song Lyrics", Beijing: Higher Education 高等教育 2004, p. 111) which I reproduce below properly lined and numbered for ease of reference. It is slightly different from the version [Azurino] cited, probably this being a revised version:-

Ouyang Xiu: "Tune: Butterflies in Love with Flowers"

1 Deep, deep the courtyard where he is, so deep
2 It's veiled by smoke-like willows heap on heap,
3 By curtain on curtain and screen on screen.
4 Leaving his saddle and bridle, there he has been
5 Merry-making. From my tower his trace can't be seen.

6 The third moon now, the wind and rain are raging late;
7 At dusk I bar the gate,
8 But I can't bar in spring.
9 My tearful eyes ask flowers, but they fail to bring
10 An answer, I see red blooms fly over the swing.

Andrew W.F. Wong 黃宏發 said...

Kindly delete "Hundred" in the book title to read "Bilingual Edition 300 Song Lyrics".

Azurino said...

果然迅速,發叔好野!
不知可否在此一談政治議題?

Frank said...

hi, andrew,

first, allow me to post below the whole 歐陽修《蝶戀花》 song ci (for ease of reference), together with an alternative rendition for your review (if you will):

《蝶戀花》歐陽修.北宋

庭院深深深幾許? 楊柳堆煙,簾幕無重數。
玉勒雕鞍游冶處,樓高不見章臺路。
雨橫風狂三月暮,門掩黃昏,無計留春住。
淚眼問花花不語,亂紅飛過鞦韆去。

TUNE: “DIE LIAN HUA” (Butterfly Romancing Flowers)
Ouyang Xiu (1007-1072: Northern Song)

O! So deep, deep and lonesome, how deep is the court?
A misty screen twisty, weaving willow leaves sport --
Like countless curtains (cloaking a closed fort).

Riding adorned steed, my spouse in drinks and laughter shall souse;
From my mansion I can't see the road to the Bawdy House.

With heavy rains and strong gusts raging in late Spring,
To shut out the failing light, the doors back I fling.
How could one ever detain sweet Spring's everything?

In tears, I inquired but silent remain the flowers;
O'er the swing, petals flew amok in the past hours.

Frank said...

secondly, andrew,

congratulations on a v fine and enjoyable rendition of 温庭筠: 更漏子 (首行-玉爐香). i like in particular your use of the sound-word "plop" that is so refreshing and exciting!

may i borrow it in my attempted rendition below, fresh from the oven, for your kind critique please.


Geng Lou Zi (“The Water-Clock”) (Autumnal Sentiments) No. 1
Wen Tinyun (812-870)

The jade censer breathes out fragrant incense,
The candle weeps red tears without pretence.
Painted pale-green eyebrows are on the wane,
While temple hair is greying without fain.
So deep and dark the night, it still drags on –
Quilt and pillow can't resist the chill strong.

Pity, pity the lonesome phoenix tree,
Past midnight: drenched in rain; cold rain and sleet
Now from leaf to leaf fall –
One PLOP – plops one, plop all...
Dripping on empty outdoor steps – PITTER!
Dripping until the new day breaks – PATTER!

Frank said...

hi, andrew,

sorry, in my haste i missed two whole lines from my rendition of the wen tingyun poem.

here's the complete rendition, please.

更漏子 (一): 秋意 温庭筠
1 玉爐香
2 紅蠟淚
3 偏照畫堂秋思
4 眉翠薄
5 鬢雲殘
6 夜長衾枕寒

7 梧桐樹
8 三更雨
9 不道離情正苦
10 一葉葉
11 一聲聲
12 空階滴到明

GENG LOU ZI (“The Water-Clock”) (Autumnal Sentiments) No. 1
Wen Tinyun (812-870)

The jade censer breathes out fragrant incense;
Candle weeps blood-red tears without pretence,
It lights up painted hall's Autumn griefs in suspense.
Painted pale-green eyebrows are on the wane,
While temple hair is greying without fain.
So deep and dark the night, it still drags on –
Quilt and pillow won't refrain the chill strong!

Pity, pity the lonesome phoenix tree;
Past midnight: down come the cold rains and sleet –
So speechless, as separation woes are recall'd --
Now from leaf to leaf fall,
One PLOP – plops one, plop all...
Dripping on empty outdoor steps – PITTER!
Dripping until the new day breaks – PATTER!

Frank said...

hi, andrew,

it is said that wen tinyun wrote a total of 6 GENG LOU ZI poems. may i post below another one (that is said to be the best written of them all) with an attempted rendition:


《更漏子》其一 (本意) 温庭筠

柳絲長,春雨細,花外漏聲迢遞。
驚塞雁,起城烏,畫屏金鷓鴣。

香霧薄,透簾幕,惆悵謝家池閣。
紅燭背,繡簾垂,夢君君不知。

GENG LOU ZI (“The Water-Clock”) (Original Sentiments) No. 1
Wen Tinyun (812-870)

O Long Leave-ribbons of Willow,
Spring Rain coming down Soft and low --
From Beyond the Flower Plots come Sounds of “PLOP”...
Tears of the ever-dripping WATERCLOCK.
They Startle Wild Geese from Border,
Bring to Flight City Crows yonder.
But fail to turn Quails, on the Screen folder,
All painted in Gold, one moment older.

All covered by Fragrant Mist Light,
It Permeates the Curtains Tight --
Over the Xia Family Pavilions and Pond,
The heavy air of Melancholy just Lingers on.
Red Candle flames A-flickering,
Embroidered Curtains still Hanging.
O How I Dreamed and Dreamed of you, My Dear,
But You Know Not, being faraway from here!

Frank said...

on re-consideration, '畫屏金鷓鴣' above should be rendered as follows, as the english words shown within brackets do not actually appear in the original poem:

''(But fail to turn) Quails -- on the Screen folder,
All painted in Gold -- (one moment older).''

Frank said...

hi, andrew,

may i post a slightly revised rendition of wen tingyun's GENG LOU ZI the Water-Clock ci below.

(this is to rectify two errors, namely,
a. “謝家” in 《謝家池閣》 是泛指女子所居住之地方。
b. 詞牌的標题 “本意”,意思是說詞牌本身也同是標題,所以不會有其他標題了。)


《更漏子》其一 (本意) 温庭筠
柳絲長,春雨細,花外漏聲迢遞。
驚塞雁,起城烏,畫屏金鷓鴣。

香霧薄,透簾幕,惆悵謝家池閣。
紅燭背,繡簾垂,夢君君不知。

Tune: GENG LOU ZI (“The Water-Clock”) – The Water-Clock No. 1 (of 6) Wen Tingyun (812-870)

O Long Leave-ribbons of Willow,
Spring Rain coming down Soft and low --
From Beyond the Flower Plots come Sounds of “PLOP”...
Tears of the ever-dripping WATERCLOCK.
They Startle Wild Geese from Border,
Bring to Flight City Crows yonder.
(But fail to turn) Quails -- on the Screen folder,
All painted in Gold -- (one moment older).

All covered by Fragrant Mist Light,
It Permeates the Curtains Tight --
Over the Pretty Lady's ornate Pavilions and Pond,
The heavy air of Melancholy just Lingers on.
Red Candle flames A-flickering,
Embroidered Curtains still Hanging.
O How I Dreamed and Dreamed of you, My Dear,
But You Know Not, being faraway from here!