13 March 2014

劉禹錫 Liu Yuxi: 秋詞 2首 其1 (1- 自古逢秋...) Autumn Song, 1 of 2 (1- As of old when autumn...)

In this hazy, misty spring time, how we long for the bright, clear autumn.  This is how Liu Yuxi, the great late Tang dynasty poet, sees autumn.  Read it out loud to be one with him:- 

Liu Yuxi (772-842):  Autumn Song, 1 of 2 (1- As of old when autumn ...)  

1  As of old when autumn falls, themes forlorn we bemoan;
2  But I say the autumn day excels any spring morn known.
3   Flapping skywards, a crane, past clouds white in the sun,
4   O how my muse of poesy to the heavens azure has flown.

Translated by Andrew W.F. Wong (Huang Hongfa)        譯者: 黃宏發
22nd October 2008 (revised 23.10.08; 27.10.08; 28.10.08; 10.9.2013)
Translated from the original - 劉禹錫:  秋詞 2首 其1 (1- 自古逢秋 ...)

1  自古逢秋悲寂寥
2   我言秋日勝春朝
3   晴空一鶴排雲上
4   便引詩情到碧霄

Notes:

*  The original is in 7-character lines; I have been able to reduce this English rendition into a hexameter (6 metrical feet).  The rhyme scheme is AAXA as in the original.

*  Line 1:  I had originally used “autumn comes” but have now decided for “autumn falls”.  I had used “men bemoan” but have now decided for “we bemoan”.

*  Line 2:  I had considered “surpasses” but have decided for “excels”.

*  Line 3:  I had originally penned the line as “Up and soaring a crane, through the clouds of the sunlit sky” which I find unsatisfactory.  Firstly, “Up and soaring … through clouds”, though an adequate translation of, is less than adequate to translate 排雲.  Secondly, “clouds” (which implies cloudiness/a cloudy day) and “sunlit sky” (which implies a sunny sky/a sunny day) are contradictory.  I have now scrambled the line into “Flapping skywards a crane, past clouds white in the sun”.

*  Line 4:  I had first penned “And to the azurean skies above, my poetic passion has flown”, but have now decided for “O how my muse of poesy, to the heavens azure has flown” dropping the word “azurean” which may be considered archaic.


1 comment:

Ray Heaton said...

In the first line of the poem, is reference being made to Liu's contemporary literati poets simply following an "old style" of poetry rather than developing new themes? Is Liu using references to Spring and Autumn in an inverted way (with Autumn being his "springboard" to greater poetry as the crane lifts his poetry to new heights) and thereby suggesting a new direction for his and others poetry, rather than simply reflecting "old ways"?