15 October 2010

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

This is the 3rd and last of the 3 verses Li Bai wrote impromptu in honour of the peony flower and Lady 貴妃 Yang Yuhuan 楊玉環 following the 1st and 2nd posted here this year in June and August respectively. Here we go:-

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

1 Famed peony, fairest lady----in love requited, in bliss,
(With the monarch's eyes, all smiles, to find you, never miss.)
   With the monarch’s eyes all smiling, to find you, never miss. (revised 8.8.19)
3 North of the Agar Pavilion, by the railing together you lean,
4 Zephyr’s moods melancholic, to dispel, disperse, dismiss.

Translated by Andrew W.F. Wong (Huang Hongfa) 譯者: 黄宏發
7th April 2010 (revised 8.4.10; 15.10.10)
Translated from the original - 李白: 清平調 首 其3

1 名花傾國兩相歡
2 長得君王帶笑看
3 解釋春風無限恨
4 沈香亭北倚闌干


* 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: To follow from line 1 of the 2nd verse in this series of three, I have identified the “flower” 花 as “peony” 牡丹 or 芍藥 which is known as the flower of the rich and the noble 富貴花. 傾國 does not literally mean “ruins the country, nation, kingdom, or empire” but alludes to “a ravishingly beautiful lady”, hence, “fairest lady”. I have translated 兩相歡 as “(the beautiful lady , likened to the queen of all flowers, is) in love, requited (by the monarch, and are both) in bliss”, and not as “(the monarch) takes pleasure in both the famous flower and the beautiful lady”.

* Line 2:  I had originally penned "With the monarch's eyes, all smiles", but have now decided for "With the monarch's eyes all smiling".

* Lines 3 and 4: I have reversed the order of lines 3 and 4.

* Line 3: “Agar”, short for “agarwood” or “aloeswood”, “eaglewood”, etc., is the incense produced in aquilaria trees. In the second half of the line, I have added “together” which is not in the original, so as to amplify my interpretation of “the monarch and the lady both in love, in bliss” in line 1 and “the monarch and the lady in constant companionship” in line 2.

* Line 4: 解釋 here means “to liberate from”, and does not mean “to explain”. This explains why I have not adopted 解識 which being the alternative version.


Classical Chinese Poems in English


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