20 May 2009

杜牧 Du Mu: 贈別 2首 其2 (1- 多情卻似...) Given on Parting 2 of 2 (1- Fond are my feelings yet...)

What follows is my latest work. Please note that I have used 2 words which are not in good currency, viz. "merry-make" and "heartful" which I believe are most appropriate for 笑 in line 2 and 有心 in line 3 respectively, in the context of the poem. Please also mark the sharp image of "the candle melting in tears" in lines 3 and 4.

Du Mu (803-852): Given on Parting 2 of 2 (1- Fond are my feelings yet...)

1 Fond are my feelings yet unfeeling I feign;
2 Before the wine-flask we merry-make in vain.
3 The heartful candle, our parting, it grieves,
4 And in tears it melts till it’s morning again

Translated by Andrew W.F. Wong (Huang Hongfa)     譯者: 黃宏發
17th May 2009 (revised 18.5.09; 19.5.09; 20.5.09)
Translated from the original - 杜牧: 贈別 2首 其2 (1- 多情卻似...)  

1 多情卻似總無情
2 唯覺樽前笑不成
3 蠟燭有心還惜別
4 替人垂淚到天明

* This English rendition is in tetrameter (4 metrical feet) while the original is in 7-character lines. The rhyme scheme is AABA as in the original.

* Alternative rendition: With the same rhyme scheme, the verse can alternatively be rhymed and written as follows:

1 Fond are my feelings, I unfeeling appear;
2 Before the wine-flask, no laughter, I fear.
3 The heartful candle, our parting, it grieves,
4 And in tears it melts, till morning is here.

* Lines 3 and 4: In line 3, “heartful”, a word extant but not in good currency, is the best choice for 有心 since both hint at the candlewick 燭芯. A possible but less than ideal substitute is “heartfelt”. If this were to be preferred, the line should read “Heartfelt, the candle, our …” in either version.

For lines 3 and 4, I had originally penned them as “The candle, for our parting, its heart out, it weeps, A-dribbling teardrops, till it’s daylight again.” I have decided against them for being less than faithful to the original and far too exaggerated. Please compare “the candle - heartful - grieves - our parting” to “the candle - weeps - its heart out - for our parting” (line 3), and “melts - in tears” to “a-dribbling teardrops” (line 4).


Classical Chinese Poems in English


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