28 April 2009

劉禹錫 Liu Yuxi: 竹枝詞 二首 其一 Song of Bamboo Twigs, I of Two [*Green, O green is the willow...]

Here is another love-song from another great Tang master. Hope you enjoy it.

Liu Yuxi (772-842): Song of Bamboo Twigs, I of Two [*Green, O green is the willow...]

1 Green, O green is the willow, placid, peaceful the flow;
2 Hark and I hear on the river, songs from my love, my beau.
3 To the east, the sun is up, to the west, drizzles persist;
4 Though they say the sun is naught, to me, the sun is aglow.

Translated by Andrew W.F. Wong (Huang Hongfa)        譯者: 黄宏發
30th October 2008 (revised 3.11.08; 5.11.08; 17.11.08; 16.12.08; 25.2.09; 28.4.09)
Translated from the original - 劉禹錫: 竹枝詞 二首 其一 [*楊柳青青...]

1 楊柳青青江水平
2 聞郎江上唱歌聲
3 東邊日出西邊雨
4 道是無晴卻有晴


* The original poem is in 7-character lines. This English rendition is in hexameter (6 metrical feet). The rhyme scheme is AABA as in the original.

* Line 1: I had considered “Green, serene” but have decided that “Green, O green” is better for being more faithful to the original.

* Line 2: Following “love”, the word “beau” should be taken to mean lover or suitor only, and not dandy or fop.

* Line 4: The main difficulty in this line is that in Chinese, 晴 (meaning sunny) and 情 (meaning love, affection) have the same sound, thus creating, with 無 (no/not) and 有 (have/is), a double meaning of 無晴-有晴 and 無情-有情. I think my rendition has covered it well, particularly having written “songs from my love, my beau” in line 2. If “to me, the sun is aglow” is considered too subtle, an excellent alternative is “for me, my sun is aglow”


Classical Chinese Poems in English


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