07 September 2011

王維 Wang Wei: 鹿柴 The Deer Range


Earlier this morning while I was tidying up the titles of my posts, I accidentally re-posted my September 2010 post of a song by Ma Zhiyuan.  I do apologise for that.  Here is what I had wanted to post.  It is a little poem by the famed Tang dynasty poet Wang Wei, the "Poet Buddha", made all the more famous to Western readers by a little book "19 Ways of Looking at Wang Wei: How a Chinese Poem is Translated" (on 19 translations of this very poem) by Eliot Weinberger (Kingston, Rhode Island: Asphodel, 1987).  I hope you will enjoy my rendition too.  

Wang Wei (701-761):  The Deer Range

1  So hollow is the mountain, not a soul in sight;
2  Yet the sound of men talking is somehow heard despite.
3  (Into the deep, deep forest, rays of the setting sun peep,)
    Into the deep, deep forest, th' returning sun rays peep,
    (revised 14.9.11)
4  To shed again on the green moss the day's remaining light.

1  So hollow is the mountain, not a soul in sight,
2  Yet the sound of men talking is somehow heard despite.
3  (Into the deep, deep forest, rays of the setting sun peep,)
    Into the deep, deep forest, th' returning sun rays peep,
    (revised 14.9.11)
4  To shed again on the green moss the day's remaining light.

Translated by Andrew W.F. Wong (Huang Hongfa)        譯者黃宏發

28 February 2008 (revised 13.3.08; 17.9.08; 16.12.08; 5 9 11) (text and notes further revised 14.9.11)

Translated from the original - 王維:  鹿柴

1  空山不見人
2  但聞人語響
3  返景入深林
4  復照青苔上

Notes:-

*    This English rendition is in hexameter (6 metrical feet) although the original feature 5-character lines.  The  rhyme scheme is AAXA which is also a Tang quatrain rhyme scheme more demanding than the XAXA of the original.

*    Line 1:  Instead of “desolate” and the literal “empty” for , I have now chosen the word “hollow”, as suggested by my friend Gabriel C.M. Yu 余志明,  which here means empty, deserted, vacant, etc.  I like it because it subtly suggests that the sound of men talking in line 2 is “hollow” too.  For 不見人 I had considered “no man to be seen”, “no man in sight” and “not a man in sight”, but have decided for “not a soul in sight”.

*    Line 2:  As “somehow” and “despite” may be redundant, I had considered but rejected using “faintly” to replace “somehow” as this might add meaning to the poem.
   
*    Line 3:  I had originally penned “Deep into the thickets” for 森林 but have now decided for “Into the deep, deep forest” to try to somehow.  I have interpreted 返景 in line 3 as 返影 (not taken to mean “shadow”, but 返回的日光 “rays of the returning sun” returning since sunrise), hence, “th' returning sun rays”.  I am grateful to Xu Yuanzhong (X.Y.Z.) for the beautifully poetic word of “peep” used in his rendition of the same poem which he entitles “The Deer Enclosure”, p.87 in X.Y.Z., et al. (eds.), “300 Tang Poems --- A New Translation”, Hong Kong: Commercial Press, 1987.  This “Into... peep" formulation beautifully translates the word “enter”.

*    Line 4:  復照 is taken to simply mean “shine again”, hence, “To shed again on the green moss", and with “the day’s remaining light” added so as to complete the meaning and the rhyme.

15 comments:

TJPete said...

I'm not sure why 裴迪's companion poems in the 辋川集 series often are neglected, but however inferior we may feel they are to 王维's, they suggest a certain symmetry (or not) of vantage point: would you consider translating and perhaps commenting on:

裴迪:鹿柴
日夕见寒山,
便为独往客。
不知深林事,
但有麏麚迹。


For comparison:
Poems of Solitude. Trans from the Chinese by Jerome Chen and Mike Bullock Abelard & Schuman, 1960

Frank said...

hi, andrew,

is quite right with his comments about 裴迪, one of the 'pastoral poets' of the tang dynasty and 王维's best friend.

from a source on the internet...

...

in response to 's request, may i post an attempted rendition below:

【鹿柴】 裴迪
日夕见寒山,
便为独往客。
不知深林事,
但有麏麚迹。

THE DEER ENCLOSURE Pei Di (716-?)

From daybreak to sundown I see the mountains cold;
Living here by myself, I am the only guest.
Not knowing what's happ'ning in the forest is best;
But still there are tracks left by bucks and the does.

Frank said...

o... i don't know what's happening here.

the other blogger's name that i typed in (twice) above simply didn't show, and the same is true for some materials i culled from the net in chinese as some supplementary info. well...

TJPete said...

Thank you, Frank ... I think I may adopt 's as my new "handle", hehe ...

I'm interested in the opposition 空山 (a much celebrated image in 王维) and 裴迪's 寒山 ... Wang Wei tells us what he doesn't see, but Pei Di tells us what he sees ... I find Pei Di's representation the more economical ... Btw, does anyone take 寒山 to be a double reference to the mountain and to the poet? 寒山's dates are extremely uncertain ...

Frank said...

(ah, i now realize that anything written or shown within the 'pair of triangular brackets' will not be reproduced in this particular blog site.)

to continue with the quotes from the net:

... 裴迪是盛唐山水田园派诗人之一,是王维最好的朋友。后来,王维隐居于蓝田(今属陕西)辋川,与裴迪“浮舟往来,弹琴赋诗,啸咏终日”。辋川别墅有华子岗、竹里馆、鹿柴等名胜多处,王维与裴迪各赋五言绝句二十首,互为唱和,以歌咏其优美景色。...

王士祯说,王、裴辋川绝句字字入禅(《带经堂诗话》)。所谓“入禅”,也是指自然,有天趣,有神韵。...

as regards TJPete's other 'deep' question above, it's best to leave it for the blog-master and visiting 'high hands' to deal with. hehe!

Frank said...

hi, andrew,

thank you for your beautiful rendition of this wang wei poem.

may i post my attempt below?

【鹿柴】 王維
空山不見人,
但聞人語響。
返景入深林,
復照青苔上。

THE DEER ENCLOSURE --Wang Wei (701-761)
On this serene mountain, no one was seen.
Yet, heard I voices in the air, it seem'd.
Vibrant, slanting sunbeams speared the dark woods;
Reflected, on moss green they softly stood.

Frank said...

and to emulate 王维's 五言绝句 format in english verse, the above rendition may be revised as follows:

【鹿柴】 王維
空山不見人,
但聞人語響。
返景入深林,
復照青苔上。

THE DEER ENCLOSURE – Wang Wei (701-761)
On Serene Mountain No-one's Seen--
I Heard Voices, it seem'd.
Sunbeams, slanting, Speared Dark Woods,
Reflected, On Moss Green Stood.

Frank said...

btw, andrew,

kindly note that line 3 of 王維: 鹿柴 should read:

'返景入深林'

TJPete said...

Here is Wang Wei's "The Bamboo Hut" 竹里馆 as printed on p. 18 in 《唐诗三百首:鉴赏》[Beijing 2006], compiled by Xie Zhenyuan 谢真元, and translated by Xu Yuanchong 许渊冲 and Ma Hongjun 马红军:

独坐幽篁里 Sitting among bamboos alone,
弹琴复长啸 I play on lute and croon carefree.
深林人不知 In the deep woods where I'm unknown,
明月来相照 Only the bright moon peeps at me.

The editors note that 竹里馆 refers to “辋川别墅胜景之一” ... The language maps closely to that of 鹿柴, raising the question of whether or to what extent these are "echo" poems to be read in concert ...

Here the translators choose "peeps" to convey through pathetic fallacy (in the good sense of "pathetic") the idea of sudden insight with a tinge of self-consciousness ...

I believe Andrew Wong has posted his own translation of 竹里馆, and has had extensive conversations with others who have tried to render these poems, which seem, when read or viewed side by side, as if they are meant to illuminate each other, as voice in each yields to the visual ...

I might add that 鹿柴 has the advantage of a mirroring pun 人/入,
while 竹里馆 deploys 日目月 to illustrate stages in the disappearance of the self ...

Andrew W.F. Wong 黃宏發 said...

I thank [TJPete] and {Frank] to whom I shall reply by and by. Let me first correct 森林 in line 3 to read 深林 which is being effected on the post.

Andrew W.F. Wong 黃宏發 said...

I thank [TJPete] for bringing to our attention an "echoing" poem of the same title written by Wang Wei's friend Pei Di (each wrote 20 so-called "Wang Stream" poems), and [Frank] for his rendition of the Pei Di poem which I will attempt to also do after I figure out how.

I just wish to respond to TJPete]'s very keen observation "that 鹿柴 has the advantage of a mirroring pun 人/入" with a word of caution. It is so subtle that it might not have been meant by the poet at all, particularly since the character 人 (man/men), in ancient seal script (pre-Tang, I must admit), looks more like 入 (enter/inside) while the latter is symmetrical.

The same word of caution covers also his corollary observation "while (the other poem) 竹里馆 deploys 日目月 to illustrate stages in the disappearance of the self ..." since, as far as I gather, 日 (sun) 月 (moon) and 目 (eye) have separate origins and stand by themselves as separate pictograms, and 日 and 月 strung together form the ideogram 明 (bright) by associative compound. Although I do not have anything to say about the 目 in 相, it is clear 明月 simply means bright moon.

TJPete said...

Thank you, Andrew ... I believe that the guiding aesthetic principle of the 辋川集 series is 烟霞痼疾 / 泉石膏肓 ... In 鹿柴, the sequence 人 / 人 / 入 does seem to indicate a gradual absorption of the human into the natural ... It is this dimension of these poems, call it 道教, that I wished to draw attention to ...

Although "明" has a literal meaning, we can also ask after its function in the poem ... The pictographs in the last line together suggest or create the impression of increasingly intensified light -- this movement, taken as an extension of the literal meaning underlying the graphemes, is translated by Hinton this way:

Entering these deep woods, late sunlight
flares on the green moss again, and rises.
Classical Chinese Poetry: An Anthology, trans. and ed. David Hinton, Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2008

Hinton's sequencing of "flares ... again ... rises" does seem to capture the increasing intensity of light (paradoxically, since we are at sunset), but I wonder whether other readers share my sense that "flares" and "rises" are a bit aggressive, if I may use that term, because after all we are at sunset ...

I much prefer Andrew's "remaining light," because truer to nature and less subjective -- the light eventually would disappear even if there were no one there to observe it ...

Andrew W.F. Wong 黃宏發 said...

I am afraid [TJPete]'s citing (and criticizing) David Hinton's lines is misplaced. The 2 lines cited are from 鹿柴 while the word 明 is in 竹里館. What I did was simply to caution against reading too much into the Chinese pictograms and ideograms.

TJPete said...

Thank you for the comment ... Of course, I did not mean to suggest that "明“ appears in the lines Hinton translates ... As I'd already mentioned what I take to be close textual parallels between 鹿柴 and 竹里馆, I was simply following -- perhaps a little too hastily -- the idea of intensified "brightness" in both poems, in the hope of being able to say that this brightness represents quite literally, but also poetically, moments of "insight" ... And if that were true, we could search for more "ecstatic" vocabulary in English to recreate for the Western reader the experience of being Wang Wei ... As for the cautionary note about reading too much into the characters, I've always thought it was the suggestiveness of the characters that made translation attractive, as Chinese poetry historically has been defined more by what is not there than what is ... But these trifles aside, I want to say again how much I've appreciated having a chance to see how you think about poetry and translation, thank you!

chineseschool12 said...

I thank English To Chinese Translation
and English To Chinese Translation to whom I shall reply by and by. Let me first correct 森林 in line 3 to read 深林 which is being effected on the post.
Thanks for post.
English To Chinese Translation