07 August 2012

白居易 Bai Juyi: 暮江吟 Song of the River by Evening

POSTSCRIPT (9 August 2012):  I now add below the picture taken.  I was on the south bank of River Arno pointing my camera eastwards at the famed Ponte Vecchio while the sun was setting on the west.  Unfortunately, it was not dusk and the moon was not up yet.

ORIGINAL POST:  I have just returned to Hong Kong from a trip to Italy.  While in Florence, I attempted to take a picture of the setting sun at River Arno obviously because my rendition of this beautiful poem by Bai Juyi was fresh on my mind.  Then in Rome, on the famous Via della Lungaretta, I met an amateur photography artist and was unable to resist the urge to share with him my rendition, but only the first 2 lines.  I promised him I would post it the soonest.  Here it is.  Please enjoy it. 

Bai Juyi (772-846):  Song of the River by Evening

1  A sunbeam paves the water, the last of  a sun sunk low;
2  Half of the river rippling, half in red aglow.
3  How so lovely this third night, ninth month lunar calendar,
4  Dewdrops seem like pearl drops, the moon, like a bow.

Translated by Andrew W.F. Wong (Huang Hongfa)      譯者:黃宏發
22nd June 2012 (revised 26.6.12; 3.7.12)
Translated from the original - 白居易:  暮江吟

1  一道殘陽鋪水中
2  半江瑟瑟半江紅
3  可憐九月初三夜
4  露似真珠月似弓


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

*    Line 1:  I have rendered 一道殘陽 as “A sun beam …, the last of a sun sunk low”.  I had originally penned “sun ray … set”, but have now decided for “sun beam … sunk”.  For I had considered “enters”, “into”, “over”, “onto” and “paving”, and have decided for “paves”.

*    Line 2:  I had considered “One half …, one half” but have decided against the superfluous “one”.  I had originally penned “river in ripples” so as to include in both half lines the word “in”, but have now decided for “river rippling” as this brings the 2  r-sound words closer together to better translate 瑟瑟.

*    Line 3:  I had originally penned “the ninth month” to mean “of the ninth month”, but have decided that both “of” and “the” can be elided.


Classical Chinese Poems in English


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