20 March 2009

崔護 Cui Hu: 題都城南莊 At a Homestead South of the Capital City

What follows is my latest translation. I hope you will enjoy it.

Cui Hu (circa 796): At a Homestead South of the Capital City/Reminiscence

1 ‘Twas today, at this doorway, a year ago,
2 Her face and peach-blows re-doubly aglow.
3 Her face is gone now, whereto unknown, yet
4 Peach-blows beam on as spring-winds flow.

Translated by Andrew W.F. Wong (Huang Hongfa)          譯者: 黃宏發
11th March 2009 (revised 12.3.09; 16.3.09; 19.3.09)
Translated from the original - 崔護: 題都城南莊/昔所見

1 去年今日此門中
2 人面桃花相映紅
3 人面不知(祇今)何處去
4 桃花依舊笑春風

* The original is in 7-character lines. This English rendition is in tetrameter (4 metrical feet). The rhyme scheme is AAXA as in the original.
* Line 1: I had considered “portal”, “door”, “gate”, “front-door”, “doorstep”, “threshold”, “gateway”, etc. but have now decided for “doorway” to rhyme internally with “today”.
* Lines 2 and 3: I had considered “A/The face” for line 2 and “That face” for line 3 to retain the ambiguity of the original, but have decided for “Her face” to make the two lines personal (and a face by the peach flowers must belong to a young lady), yet not as personal as “Your face”.
* Lines 2 and 4: I had used “peach-blooms” but have now decided for “peach-blows”
* Line 2: I have interpreted 相 to mean both 共 “together”, “in unison”, etc. and 交互 “at each other/one another”, “mutual”, “reciprocal”, etc. and have coined the word “re-doubly” to translate 相映紅 as “re-doubly aglow”. If “re-doubly” is considered odd, an alternative is “redoubled their glow”.
* Line 3: I had used “I know not where” but have now decided for “whereto unknown”.
* Line 4: I had considered “still beam” but have decided for “beam on” to translate 依舊 “as of old”. I have interpreted 笑春風 to mean “smile/beam in the spring winds” and not “to laugh at the spring winds”. I have decided to use “flow”, instead of “blow”, to speak of the gentle spring winds.