05 August 2017

裴迪 Pei Di: 送崔九 Farewell to Cui Jiu

Today, I am posting a little poem by Pei Di 裴迪 who was a close friend of Wang Wei's 王維 and the circle of three friends included Wang Wei's brother-in-law 崔興宗 Cui Xingzong, the very Cui Jiu (the Ninth) 崔九 in the title Pei Di was writing to and sending off.

Hope you like my rendition:- 

Pei Di (716-?): Farewell to Cui Jiu

1   (Back to the hills you’re going, no matter far or near;)
     Back to the hills you're going, no matter near or far;  (revised 16.8.17)
2   Be ever filled with the beauty of every mound and dale.
3   (Follow not the folly of that fickle Wuling fellow, who)
     Pray that never you follow that fickle Wuling fellow who  (revised 5.8.17)
4   Alas but briefly stayed in the Peach Blossoming Vale. 

Translated by Andrew W.F. Wong (Huang Hongfa)      譯者: 黃宏發
12th May 2017 (revised 27.7.2017; 4.8.17)
Translated from the original – 裴迪: 送崔九

1   歸山深淺去
2   須盡邱
3   莫學武陵人
4   暫遊桃源裏


*Form, Meter and Rhyme:  The original is a 5-character quatrain.  This English rendition is in hexameter (6 beats or feet) while the original is in 5-syllable lines.  The rhyme scheme is XAXA as in the original.

*Title:  崔九 “Cui Jiu” or “Cui the Ninth” in the title refers not to the Cui Jiu in 杜甫 Du Fu’s poem 江南逢李龜年 “Meeting Li Guiniang in Jiangnan” whose name is 崔滌 Cui Di, but to another Cui Jiu who was 王維 Wang Wei’s brother-in-law (wife’s younger brother) named 崔興宗 Cui Xingzong.  Wang Wei and Cui Xingzong and the poet of this poem Pei Di were very close friends indeed.

*Line 1:  The term  (return) (mountain) refers to retirement or resignation from public service and is translated here literally as “back to the hills”.  I had originally translated (deep or far) (shallow or near) literally as "far or near", but have now (16.8.17) decided to reverse the order in favour of the word "far" to  end the line, thus, “near or far”.  (go) is rendered as “going”, hence, my “Back to the hills you’re going”.  To this and before “near or far”, I have added “no matter” (after considering “be it” and “whether”) to make sense of the line.

*Line 2:  (should or must) (to fully do) is rendered as “Be ever filled with … of every …”  邱壑 and are translated literally as “mound and dale” and “the beauty”.

*Line 3:  I have rendered (not to) (learn, repeat, follow, copy or imitate) as “Follow not the folly” (with “folly” added) after considering an alternative rendition of “Pray that you never follow” (without adding “folly”), and have decided for the version with the additions which, in my view, best conveys the sense.   武陵人 (Wuling, man) is rendered as “that fickle Wuling fellow” with “fellow” to translate “man” and with “fickle” added   The addition of “fickle” here and “folly” earlier on is for both the sense and the  sound of the line.  The line now reads: “Follow not the folly of that fickle Wuling fellow, who”.  Note added (5.8.17): I have now decided to revert to the version which I had originally considered, slightly changed to read: "Pray that never you follow that fickle Wuling fellow who".  This is because I find my alliteration of 4 "f's" a bit too tiring; and since I am reluctant to let go of either "follow" or "fellow" and since neither "folly" nor "fickle" is in the original, one of them can be dropped, and I have decided to drop "folly".  Frankly, unlike saying "follow that fellow", I had never been too comfortable with having to say "follow the folly".  I am happy that my discomfort has disappeared.  End of added note.  武陵人 is an allusion to 陶淵明 Tao Yuanming’s story of a fisherman from Wuling who discovered a paradise on earth but left for home after just a few days, which story is entitled 桃花源記 “The Peach Blossom Source”.  The allusion runs on in the poem to 桃源, which I have rendered as "Peach Blossoming Vale", in line 4.

*Line 4:  (temporary or brief) (visit, tour or stay) is rendered as “(line 3) … who /Alas, but briefly stayed” (after considering “who /Alas, just briefly stayed”, “whose /Stay was, alas, but brief” and “whose /Stay was, alas, a brief one”) with the word “Alas” added to strengthen the “not to copy or follow” advice/admonition of line 3.   (peach) (source) (in) is rendered rather literally as “in the Peach Blossoming Vale” with (a) taken to mean 棑花 and rendered as “Peach Blossom” turned into “Peach Blossoming” for the one additional unstressed syllable “-ing” required before “Vale”, and (b) taken to refer to the place where the source (or spring) is and covers, and not the source (or spring) itself, hence, rendered as “Vale” and which completes the rhyme


Classical Chinese Poems in English


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