02 September 2009

李白 Li Bai: 望廬山瀑布 2首 其2 View of a Waterfall at Mount Lushan 2 of 2

Postscript 2 (14.11.2017; 16.11.17) - Upon reconsideration, I have further revised my rendition.  This is primarily to include in line 1 of my rendition the idea of 紫 "purple" in 紫煙 "purple smoke" which alludes to 紫氣東來 "purple air coming from the east" where 紫氣 mean "auspicious air or atmosphere or cloud or mist".  I had originally penned "in a purplish mist agleam" but have now revised "mist" to "aura" which means "a subtly pervasive quality or atmosphere seen as emanating from a person, place or thing (Webster Encyclopedic Unabridged)" and "a subtle emanation from any substance (Shorter Oxford)".  Line 1 now reads "Sunlit the Incense Summit, in a purplish aura agleam".  The word 生 "produce, emit, etc." in the same line (which, though less significant in my view,)  is somewhat covered by the word "in" and the word "aura".

I have further revised 飛流 in line 3 as "Flowing, fleeting, flying" which is more faithful to the original.

My notes are yet to be revised.  Here is my revised rendition:-

Li Bai (701-762): View of a Waterfall at Mount Lushan 2 of 2

1  Sunlit the Incense Summit, in a purplish aura agleam;
2  To afar like a shimmering curtain, a waterfall hangs up-stream.
3  Flowing, fleeting, flying -- plunging three thousand feet,
4  As if ‘twere the Silver River, falling from Heaven Supreme.

Translated by Andrew W.F. Wong (Huang Hongfa) 譯者: 黃宏發
5th August 2009 (revised 6.8.09: 7.8.09; 2.9.09; 3.9.09; 11.8.10; 16.6.11; 14.11.2017)

Postscript 1 (16.6.2011) -  Revisions consolidated: I had as early as 3.9.2011 revised "like a drape that glitters" in line 2 to "like a shimmering curtain". This is now reflected below. I also take this opportunity to effect some touching up: deleting the comma between "afar" and "like" and hyphenating "up" and "stream" (line 2), replacing "Flowing" by "Rolling" (line 3), and deleting "the" and capitalizing "Heaven Supreme" (line 4). The notes in the original post above are accordingly revised up to today. The revised rendition is as follows:-

Li Bai (701-762): View of a Waterfall at Mount Lushan 2 of 2

1  Sunlit the Incense Summit, aglow in smoke and steam,
2  To afar like a shimmering curtain, a waterfall hangs up-stream:
3  Rolling, flying, fluttering ~ plunging three thousand feet,
4  As if ‘twere the Silver River, falling from Heaven Supreme.

Translated by Andrew W.F. Wong (Huang Hongfa) 譯者: 黃宏發
5th August 2009 (revised 6.8.09: 7.8.09; 2.9.09; 3.9.09; 11.8.10; 16.6.11)

Original Post (2.9.2009) - Here is my latest translation. Please let your friends know if you enjoy it.

Li Bai (701-762): View of a Waterfall at Mount Lushan 2 of 2

1  Sunlit is the Incense Summit, aglow in smoke and steam;
2  To afar, like a drape that glitters, a waterfall hangs upstream:
3  Flowing, flying, fluttering ~ plunging three thousand feet,
4  As if ‘twere the Silver River, falling from the heaven supreme.

Translated by Andrew W.F. Wong (Huang Hongfa) 譯者: 黃宏發
5th August 2009 (revised 6.8.09: 7.8.09; 2.9.09)
Translated from the original - 李白: 望廬山瀑布 2首 其2

1  日照香爐生紫煙
2  遙看瀑布掛前川
3  飛流直下三千尺
4  疑是銀河落九天

Notes: (revised up to 16.6.11, please see POSTSCRIPT above for the revised rendition of the poem)

* Form, Metre and Rhyme:  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 added the word “Summit” to translate 香爐 “incense burner” as the poem clearly refers to a mountain “peak/summit” and not an “incense burner”. I could have used “censer” or “thurible” to qualify the “peak/summit”, but have decided against them as they yield the image of an “incense burner" being carried and not stationary, hence, “Incense Summit” omitting “Burner”. I have also omitted translating 生 “generating” which can be taken to be implied in “aglow” which latter subtly suggests 紫 “purplish” or “reddish”.

* Line 2: I have added the simile “a drape that glitters” which, though not literally in the original, is in fact most subtly suggested in the word 布 “cloth” in 瀑布 “waterfall” or “cataract”, followed by 掛 “hangs”, which produces a vivid picture of “a piece of cloth hanging”, hence, “a drape … hangs”. What I have added is only the “white” colour, and I have decided for “that glitters” instead of “of hoar-silk” or “of white silk”. I had originally considered “curtain”, e.g. “hoar-silk curtain”, but have decided for “drape”. However, after posting it, I at once relented and revised it to "like a shimmering curtain" for sounding so much better.

* Line 3: I had considered (1) “Flowing, flushing, flying” for its “f” alliteration, (2) the rhyming “Flushing, rushing, gushing”, and (3) “Flowing, rolling, flying”, but decided for “Flowing, flying, fluttering”. I now consider "Rolling, flying, fluttering" (in that order) the best combination as "rolling" which means "flowing faster and in a larger volume" is a better word than "flowing" to translate 飛流 and as 3 "f's" in a row tends to be boring.

Line 4: I have translated 銀河 “Milky Way” literally as “Silver River”. As 九天 the “Ninth Heaven”, like the “Seventh Heaven” or “Seventh of Heavens” in the West, is the highest level of the heavens, I have abandoned both “nine” and “seven” and embraced “Heaven Supreme” which also completes the "-eam" rhyme. I had originally penned “As if the Silver River, were falling …”, but have now decided for “As if ‘twere the Silver River, falling …”.