14 November 2019

劉石佑 John Lau: 日本德仁天皇登基有感 Enthronement of Emperor Naruhito of Japan

Today, I am posting my English rendition of a quatrain by my dear friend John Lau.  This is a tribute to both Japan and China as most Chinese would believe that the Japanese have kept (well kept and even refined) traditional Chinese rites which belief can hardly be conclusively verified..  In any case, Greetings, Emperor Naruhito! 

Lau Shek Yau/ John Lau) (b.1947): Enthronement of Emperor Naruhito of Japan (23 October 2019)

1   Propriety lost, we turn to the East and see
2   The stately rites of our great Tang dynasty.
3   Ancient rituals, in Japan now still extant,
4   Re-live the grand and glorious ceremony.

Translated by Andrew W.F. Wong (Huang Hongfa)    譯者: 黃宏發
27 October 2019 (revised 28.10.2019; 29.10.19; 30.10.19)
Translated from the original:  劉石佑: 日本德仁天皇登基有感 (20191023)

1   禮失求諸夷
2   大唐盛世姿
3   東瀛存古例
4   重現壯豐儀


*Form, Metre and Rhyme:  This English rendition is a quatrain in pentameter (5 feet or beats) to emulate the original which is a 5-character 絕句 “jueju”.  To further emulate the original, I have also given a caesura (pause) to every line after the first 2 feet or beats.  The rhyme scheme is AAxA as in the original.

*Line 1:  禮失 (rites/manners lost) is rendered as “Propriety lost”.  求諸 (seek from, ask of) is rendered as “we turn to … and see” with “and see” added to link up to line 2 and to create the “see/-ty/-ny” end rhyme for lines 1, 2 and 4.   (‘Yi’) means 東夷 (the ‘Yi’ people of the East).  It refers to Japan and the Japanese people and is rendered simply as “the East” for brevity.

*Line 2:  大唐 (great, Tang dynasty China) 盛世 (prosperous, period) is rendered as “of the great Tang dynasty” and moved down to the end of the line for the “-ty” end rhyme.  I suggest reading “-ty” stressed, but “Tang” unstressed.  姿 (appearance, posture, countenance, deportment) is taken to refer to matters having to do with propriety (rites and rituals), and is, hence, rendered as “The stately rites” (after considering other qualifying adjectives such as “solemn”, “graceful”, and “elegant”) and moved up to begin the line.

*Line 3:  東瀛 (East ‘Ying’) refers to Japan and is simply rendered as “in Japan”.  (exist) is rendered as “now still extant” after considering “till now extant”.  古例 (old rules) is rendered as “Ancient rituals” and moved up to begin the line.   

*Line 4:  重現 (again, appear/see) is rendered as “Re-live” after considering “Re-enact”.  壯豐 (strong, rich) is rendered as “grand and glorious” after considering “grand, exuberant”.  (rites) is translated literally as “ceremony”.  I suggest reading “ce-” and “-ny” in “ceremony” stressed.    


Classical Chinese Poems in English


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