Bai Juyi (772-846): Night in Snow
1 Surprised to find, so cold, my quilt and pillow;
2 (Then light I see from the papered casement window.)
Then light I see through my papered casement window.
3 (Deep in the night, so heavy it snows, I know, when)
Deep in the night, so heavy's the snow, I know, when
4 (Bamboos go crack ~ a sound, now ‘n then, I follow.)
Bamboos go clack---a sound, then again, I follow.
Translated by Andrew W.F. Wong (Huang Hongfa) 譯者: 黃宏發
22nd July 2009 (revised 23.7.09; 24.7.09; 3.8.09; 4.8.09; 5.8.09; 10.12.10)
Translated from the original - 白居易: 夜雪
* This English rendition is in pentameter (5 metrical feet) to emulate the original 5-character lines. The rhyme scheme is AAXA as I take the original to be. The “pillow, window, follow” rhyme is but a falling para-rhyme
* Line 2: The word 復 here means 後 “then”, not 再 “again”. The word 户 “door” is omitted in the translation as it refers to the Chinese “casement door” which is also a window. The word “papered” is added to make clear it is not a glass casement window/door which did not yet exist.
* Line 3: I had originally penned “so heavy’s the snow” but have now decided for “so heavy it snows”.
* Line 4: For the sound of bamboos breaking, I had considered “snap” and “clack”, but have decided for “crack”. For the word 時, I had considered “e’er ‘n anon (ever and anon)”, “now ‘n again (now and again)”and “then ‘n again (then and again)”, but have decided for “now ‘n then (now and then)”