02 August 2010

李白 Li Bai: 清平調 3首 其2 To the Qing and Ping Tune (for Lady Yang), 2 of 3

Here is the second verse of Li Bai's 3 verses to the tune of Qing and Ping which I promised to post in my June post. I hope you do enjoy it.

Li Bai (701-762):  To the Qing and Ping Tune (for Lady Yang), 2 of 3

1 Ablush, abloom, O peony, your fragrance dewdrops retain!
2 That nymph of mists and mizzles, was a rendezvous dreamt in vain;
3 And who in the courts of old times, your beauty might match? I ask.
4 ‘Twas (pity!) the pretty Feiyan, while her new paint was yet to wane.

Translated by Andrew W.F. Wong (Huang Hongfa) 譯者: 黃宏發
23rd January 2010 (revised 25.1.10; 1.2.10; 4.2.10; 8.2.10; 9.2.10; 10.2.10; 7.4.10)
Translated from the original - 李白: 清平調 3首 其2

1 一枝紅艷露凝香
2 雲雨巫山枉斷腸
3 借問漢宮誰得似
4 可憐飛燕倚新妝


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

* Line 1: I have used “ablush” for 紅 and “abloom” for 艶, and have added “oh peony” to say what is ablush, abloom is a particular peony on a particular stem 枝, made to stand for the lady.. For 凝, I had considered “sustain” and “contain”, but have decided for “retain”.

* Line 2: This is the legend of the King of Chu 楚 who, in dream, rendezvoused with the beautiful nymph/oread/fairy/goddess 神女 of Wu-Shan 巫山. I have decided to translate 巫山 not as the mountain but as its deity. In this context, the mountain clearly stands for the deity who lives there, and for this 神女, I have decided to use “nymph” for its beauty and simplicity although “oread” (mountain nymph) might be more appropriate. And, instead of translating 斷腸 (meaning heartbreak, literally guts severing), I have put in the “dreamt rendezvous” to make plain the legend referred to.

* Line 3: I had considered “Han times” to translate 漢 but have decided for “old times”.

* Line 4: I have translated 倚新妝 (“relying/counting on her new/fresh paint/ make-up”) as “while her new paint was yet to wane”.


Classical Chinese Poems in English


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