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).


Travel Lok said...

I think this is really "your" poem! True to your self - the wick of your candle. Beautiful and sad at the same time.

Eunice Chiu said...

This is among the best you create. As good as the original - rhyme, language feeling. "...unfeeling i feign..."

Andrew W.F. Wong 黃宏發 said...

I have revised my rendition in two places: (1) in line 2, "the wine-flask" to read "our wine-cups" (which is the correct, not the Cantonese, meaning of 樽, and (2) in line 4, "till it's morning again" to read "till the sky lights again" (which is closer to the original). The poem now reads:-
1 Fond are my feelings, yet unfeeling I feign,
2 Before our wine-cups, we merry-make in vain.
3 So heartful, the candle, our parting it grieves,
4 And in tears it melts, till the sky lights again.

Frank Yue said...

i don't understand why you said "wine-cups" is more accurate than the earlier "wine-flask". any comments on the following, please.

Written upon Parting No. 2 (of 2) Du Mu (803-852)
Deep love always seems empty but worthwhile;
Despite farewell feast, we can't force a smile.
On parting, with heart the burning candle
Sheds tears till dawn (-- more than we could handle)!