03 May 2010

岳飛 Yue Fei: 滿江紅 Man Jiang Hong (The River All Red)

The following is my rendition of Yue Fei's "Man Jiang Hong" (The River All Red), the first time I post on my blog a 詞 (ci, i.e. lyrics to a tune) or, more descriptively, 長短句 (long and short lines). Hope you enjoy it.

Yue Fei (1103-1141): To the Tune of “Man Jiang Hong” (The River All Red)

1    By the railing I stand,
2    Showers have stopped,
3    I bristle with wrath, my hair uncaging.
4    My eyes towards the sky,
5    To arms! Long I cry,
6    To war, for a heavenly cause! I’m raging.
7    My decade of deeds, as dust I deem, short of the final victory,
8    O’er thousands of miles, day or night, been in battle engaging.
9    So take it to heart, get set!
10  Lest, in vain, we’ll regret,
11  Turned grey, our youthful heads, on aging.

12  Held captive still, our sovereigns,
13  Unavenged, this burning shame;
14  When? Why now is the hour
15  To burn out our vengeful flame.
16  O charge, you columns of chariots!
17  Crash that gap at Helan-Shan! Crush it in heaven’s name!
18  In hunger we eat their body, in thirst, drink their blood!
19  We’ll so boast of our bravery, as if them tartars were game.
20  All over again, in rally we stand:
21  Our homeland of old, to recapture,
22  Our emperor, “All hail!” to acclaim.

Translated by Andrew W.F. Wong (Huang Hongfa) 譯者: 黃宏發
11th September 2009 (revised 13.9.09; 15.9.09; 17.9.09: 18.9.09; 23.9.09; 24.9.09; 15.10.09; 16.10.09; 19.10.09; 4.11.09; 16.12.09; 9.3.10)
Translated from the original - 岳飛: 寄調 滿江紅

1    怒髮衝冠
2    憑闌處
3    瀟瀟雨歇
4    抬望眼
5    仰天長嘯
6    壯懷激烈
7    三十功名塵與土
8    八千里路雲和月
9    莫等閒
10  白了少年頭
11  空悲切

12  靖康恥
13  猶未雪
14  臣子恨
15  何時滅
16  駕長車
17  踏破賀蘭山缺
18  壯志饑餐胡虜肉
19  笑談渴飲匈奴血
20  待從頭
21  收拾舊山河
22  朝天阙

* The original poem is in 2 stanzas of 11 lines each, with one common rhyme at lines 3, 6, 8, 11, then 13, 15, 17, 19, 22. I have taken this to mean that there are 9 sentences in the poem with 4 in the first stanza and 5 in the second. I have been unable to find a common rhyme for my English rendition and have decided to use an “-aging” rhyme in stanza 1 and an “-ame/aim” rhyme in stanza 2. I have also been unable to translate the lines correspondingly, and have changed the order where necessary but only within the respective sentences.
* Lines 1, 2 and 3 (being one sentence): Line 3 translates the original line 1, lines 1 and 2 are lines 2 and 3 in the original. In line 3, I have omitted translating 冠 “hat/helmet/headgear” and have simply rendered it as “my hair uncaging”.
* Lines 4, 5 and 6 (being one sentence): I have moved 仰天 “towards the sky” from the original line 5 to merge with 抬望眼 “raise my eyes to” in line 4 as “My eyes towards the sky”. I have added “To arms” in line 5 and “To war” in line 6 as the contents of the “long cry” 長嘯 to explain the making of this war poem. I had originally translated line 6 loosely as “’Tis a war for a heavenly cause we are waging”, but have now decided for “To war, for a heavenly cause! I am raging”. In either case, I have omitted translating 懷 “bosom/chest” or “heart/mind” which is implied in “for a heavenly cause”.
* Line 7: I have taken 三十 to mean “thirty odd years of age”, the poet must have been in the army for some 10 years, hence, “decade”. I have added “short of the final victory” to explain why the poet deemed his “deeds/feats/victories” as “dust/trifles”.
* Line 8: I have used “thousands of miles” to translate 八千里 “8,000 li” being only 2,400 miles. I have added “been in battle engaging” to make plain that the poet was in the army and at war.
* Lines 9, 10 and 11 (being one sentence): In line 9, I have taken 莫等閒 to mean 莫等閒視之 “don’t take it lightly” or “take it seriously”, hence, “take it to heart”. Line 11 translates the original line 10, and line 10, the original line 11.
* Lines 12 and 13 (being one sentence): “Held captive still, our sovereigns” in line 12 is not a literal translation of 靖康 “Jing Kang” which is the name of a period, but explains the history of the end of the North Song 北宋 dynasty with the
emperor 欽宗 Qin Zong and his father, the abdicated 徽宗 Hui Zong, both captured in the 2nd year of Jing Kang, hence, “sovereigns (in plural)” I have moved 恥 “shame” from the original line 12 to line13 and 猶 “still” from the original line 13 to line 12.
* Lines 14 and 15 (being one sentence): I have scrambled these 2 lines. The original line 15 何時滅 is taken to be a rhetorical question and translated as “When? why now is the hour!” in line 14 and “To burn out” in line 15. The original line 14 臣子恨 is translated as “our (臣generals’ and officials’, 子 soldiers’ and subjects’) vengeful flame” in line 15.
* Lines 12 to 22 (the second stanza): I am grateful to Xu Yuan-zhong for his “burning shame(line 13) and vengeful flame(line 15)” rhyme in his rendition of the same poem, pp. 470-473, “Bilingual Edition of 300 Song Lyrics”, Beijing, Higher Education Press, 2004 which has encouraged me to follow the rhyme through the entire second stanza, thus “name(17)-game(19)-acclaim(22)”.
* Line 17: I have added “in heaven’s name” to continue the “-ame/aim” rhyme and to further justify the war.
* Lines 18 and 19 (being one sentence): I have scrambled the 2 lines. First, I have put “hunger, eat, body” (line 18) and “thirst, drink, blood” (line 19) both into line 18. Second, I have scrambled 胡虜 “the Hu people” (line 18) and 匈奴 “the Hun people” (line 19)---虜 and 奴 being derogatory words for people---into line 19 as simply “them tartars”, with the word “them” signifying enmity (us and them) and the word “tartars” in lower case to convey the derogatory sense. Third, I have merged 壯志 (line 18) and 笑談 (line 19) into line 19 as “boast of our bravery”. I have chosen “boast” (I have rejected “brag”) to translate 笑談 and added “as if … were game” 獵物 to make clear my interpretation that the poet’s soldiers, though full of hatred (see “them tartars”), may not really be cannibals.
* Line 20: I take 待 to mean “ready/set/about to”, not “wait”, and 從頭 to mean “again/afresh”, not “begin/to or from the beginning”, hence, “All over again, in rally we stand”.
* Line 21: 收拾 is taken to mean “recapture/recover/restore/re-claim”, not “tidy up/reclaim”. I have translated 舊山河 as “homeland of old”
* Line 22: 朝天阙 “towards the heavenly (imperial palace) gate” is rendered in very concrete terms originally as “Long live the emperor! to acclaim”, now as “Our emperor, ‘All hail!’ to acclaim”.

Classical Chinese Poems in English


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